Crossing the Sea of Cortés – June 2014

Over the past few months, Susan and I have become good friends with Vito Bialla, a larger than life guy who means it when he says “when something is worth doing, do it full throttle”.  Vito has found many things worth doing, as you can read in his book Happiness is a Sharp Chainsaw.   Vito is also one of the founders of Night Train Swimmers, a group of San Francisco Bay Area open water swimmers who perfectly combine extreme open water swimming with extreme out of the water fun.

Vito proposed the idea of putting together a joint Night Train Swimmers – Swim4Good swim. So, in early June 2014, we’ll attempt to swim across the Sea of Cortés in a 6 swimmer relay. The Sea of Cortés is one of the most diverse seas on the planet and home to a rich ecosystem. We will start from near La Paz (Baja California Sur, Mexico) and finish on the mainland coast of Mexico, either in Sinaloa or Sonora.  Depending on the route we take (which will be decided based on moon, tide, etc…) the swim’s distance can be anywhere between 140 km (88 miles) and 200 km (125 miles). Swimming across the Sea of Cortés has been attempted by solo and relay teams but no one has succeeded yet to the best of my knowledge.

For such a relay swim, each swimmer will end up spending 1/6 of the time swimming and 5/6 on the boat with the other swimmers, so having the right dynamic on the boat is as important as performing well in the water. For me, the team members will be a combination of family, old friends, new friends, and soon-to-be friends.  A true luxury. The 6 team members are (in alphabetical order) :

Antonio Argüelles. We’ve known Toño since January 2013, when we interviewed him in this blog and we’ve grown to be close friends since then. He gave us great advice throughout our training for the Gibraltar swim up until a few minutes before the swim.  Toño is the first swimmer to have completed the Triple Crown (English Channel, Catalina Island, Manhattan Island Marathon Swim) twice and the 3rd to do it in one season. Toño has 5 Ironman, 3 half Ironman, and 9 marathons under his belt, and was the founder of the Mexican Triathlon Federation. 

Vito Bialla. Although we’ve known Vito only since July 2013, we’ve built a close and solid friendship. Purple heart Vietnam war hero, entrepreneur, ultra endurance athlete (Badwater, 5 Ultraman including a back-to-back Ultramans…). His swimming career includes Tiburon – Farallon Islands relay, across Lake Powell, Sacramento – Tiburon relay, English Channel relay, and Nighttrain228 Point Conception to San Diego (world record for longest continuous relay). Founding member of the Farallon Islands Swimming Federation and Night Train Swimmers. Vito finished 8 marathons the year he decided to start running.

Richard Ernst. A friend from Mexico City that I’ve known for a good 40 years (but have not seen in 30 years). Lives in Scottsdale, AZ, where he is an MD. Richard started swimming in open water in 1999 while he was a doing his family practice residency in Puerto Rico. Has completed 5 Iron Man 70.3, full Iron Man and a Marathon.

Susan Moody (my wife). Grew up as a competitive pool swimmer, nationally ranked in 200 butterfly, captain of the Princeton Swim Team. Came out of her 18 year swimming retirement in 2012 to swim the Strait of Gibraltar in 2013. Little known facts about her is that she was recruited by US colleges not only for swimming, but also for cross country, shot putting and discus, both of which she was state champion (North Carolina).

 Mauricio Prieto (me). Started swimming on a regular basis in 1993 while at the University of California at Berkeley. Completed a dozen 10km+ open water solo swims in 2012-2013, including Lanzarote-Fuerteventura (17.5km) and Strait of Gibraltar (18km).

Luane Rowe. I’ve never met Luane but heard great things about her from Vito.  Luane is a world class Australian open water swimmer who has won the Waikiki Roughwater Swim (three consecutive years), the Statue of Liberty Swim in NYC, and a score of other races in Lake Michigan. Oceanside CA, Australia, the Cayman Islands, and Miami. She swam the English Channel in a duo relay and was part of Night Train Swimmer’s’ Nighttrain228 record breaking relay swim.

We will be raising money for charities that will benefit kids programs in both the US and Mexico in the field of education and health.  More details to come.

Baja California, Sea of Cortés



Categories: Sea of Cortez

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  1. El Mar de Cortés – Junio 2014 | Open Water Swimming
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