Kevin Pollman - St. Lucia Channel

St. Lucia to Martinique

33 km (20.5 miles)

12 hours, 50 minutes on 7 July 2019

Observed and documented by Ricardo Bernard

Contents

Swimmer

  • Name: Kevin Pollman
  • Gender: male
  • Age on swim date: 38
  • Nationality: United States
  • Resides: St. Louis Park, Minnesota

Support Personnel

  • Katie Dwyer - feeder/support
  • Ricardo Bernard - observer
  • Cornel Clairmont - pilot

Escort Vessel: 17’ RHIB Gary (Rodney Bay, St Lucia)


Swim Parameters

  • Category: Solo, nonstop, unassisted.
  • Rules: MSF Rules of Marathon Swimming, without exception or modification.
  • Equipment used: Goggles, cap, standard swimsuit, Desitin, Vaseline

Route Definition

  • Body of Water: St. Lucia Channel
  • Route Type: one-way channel swim
  • Start Location: Beach east of Cap Maison, north of Smuggler’s Cove Resort (14.100365, -60.950121)
  • Finish Location: Grande Anse, Martinique (14.409141, -60.885641)
  • Minimum Route Distance: 33 km (20.5 miles)

History

LongSwimsDB: St. Lucia Channel swims


Swim Data

  • Start: 7 July 2019, 05:31 (America/St_Lucia).
  • Finish: 7 July 2019, 18:21
  • Elapsed: 12 hours, 50 minutes.

Summary of Conditions

Feature Min Max
Water Temp (C)    
Air Temp (C) 27 28
Wind (knots) 12 18 (East)

GPS Track

Trackpoint frequency: 30 minutes. Download raw data (CSV).

Speed Plot

Nutrition: GU gel and carb drink, every 30 minutes.


Observer Log

Download PDF


Narrative

What inspired you to do this swim?

The idea of channel swimming has always intrigued me, and I’ve been lucky enough to complete a few of them in my travels. My journey to St. Lucia originated from very humble beginnings- I randomly happened across a link for the St Lucia Channel Swim in the spring of 2018 while waiting at a carwash. It looked like a fun challenge and a great location, but the timing wasn’t right. Fast forward a year later and the event became a real possibility.

How did you plan the swim?

Sue Dyson was instrumental in organizing all the logistical details of event. All I had to do was fly to St. Lucia with my support crew. I leveraged experiences from prior swims to know that frequent feedings would have to be part of the race plan. On the training side, my career is consistently demanding, so making the most of my daily hour in the pool is a must. Being fully aware that 25k-30k yards per week is on the lighter end of the preparation spectrum, I expected that mental toughness & guts would come into play in a race of this caliber. More on that later.

How did the swim go, generally? Did you face any unanticipated challenges?

As expected, swimming the St Lucia Channel proved to be the most difficult physical challenge of my life. The whole swim lasted just under 13 hours, and it could really be broken into 2 sections: the first ~10 hours that went well, and the last ~3 hours that did not.

My left shoulder first started to show signs of fatigue around hour 8. It progressively worsened, but the pain was manageable. At about 10 hours in, my left shoulder pain heightened to the point that it required a change in stroke technique and breathing pattern. This proved to be a temporary solution- after about an hour, my right shoulder was in far more pain than my left. In addition to, or perhaps because of, the shoulder pain, I noticed that our progress towards Martinique had slowed significantly (we found out later that currents/tides were another important variable).

About 12 hours into the swim, with the sun rapidly dropping towards the sea and two blown up shoulders, I had my first legitimate doubts about finishing. This was all fair game, so as long as I could keep going, I told myself “suck it up and move your arms… finding your limit is the point of channel swimming.” The self-talk helped, but my physical condition worsened to the point that I specifically recall streamlined kicking on my back at times. After 12 hours and 50 minutes of swimming, and completely running on fumes/guts, we mercifully found a rocky landing spot on Martinique!!

I wanted to offer a special thanks to my support crew (shouts to Katie) who helped make this event a reality for me. It takes a special type of person to watch someone you care for struggle so badly – especially when there’s only so much they can do to help. It’s not an easy thing to watch, and these events would never happen without proper support. Many thanks to everyone!


Photos

Click to enlarge.


Video

Kevin Pollman - St. Lucia Channel from MSF on Vimeo.