Jones, 73, channeling her energy to cover swim lessons for youth

Monica Jones is the BFF — best friend forever — to local swimming.

Monica Jones is part of a senior women's relay that plans to swim from Santa Cruz Island to Oxnard.

Monica Jones is part of a senior women’s relay that plans to swim from Santa Cruz Island to Oxnard. The six swimmers range from 62 to 76. (Photo by Sheila Finn)

Her history proves it. In 2009, she was part of a group that got the Los Banos del Mar pool declared a local and state historical landmark and raised over $1 million to prevent the City of Santa Barbara in from pursuing a plan to create a grandiose harbor entrance at that spot. In 2009, she raised enough money to save the Sunday adult swim program at Los Banos and keep the Ortega Park swimming pool open.

Jones, 73, is at it again. This time, she’s out to raise funds to cover the cost of swim lessons for local youth.

“I think kids are important,” she said. “Somebody taught us how to swim.”

She notes in a promotional flyer about her fundraising effort: “… Many children who live along the California coast have never had the opportunity to learn to swim. I could just ask you to contribute to help fund such lessons — $41 pays for two weeks of daily lessons for one child.”

To demonstrate how serious she is about the cause, she joined an all-woman relay team to swim 19 miles across the Santa Barbara Channel from Santa Cruz Island to Oxnard.

What’s makes this relay unique is the six women on the team are age 62 to 76. They call themselves the Sea Sprites.

The relay is scheduled to begin at midnight on Sept. 19. Each person will swim one hour at a time across the channel. And they’ll not be wearing wet suits.

“I got an email from someone down south that wanted to do the first-ever ‘Little Old Ladies Swim’ from Santa Cruz to Oxnard,” she explained. “I said, ‘I’m slow,’ and she said, ‘We don’t care. You have to be old and tough and be willing to swim in the dark.’ I said I’d do it.”

Jones and 76-year-old Sylvia Glenn of Santa Maria are the county representatives on the relay team. Glenn was a regular in the mile swim at the Reef and Run Series.

“She’s faster than me,” said Jones. “I always come in last in the mile.”

But Jones always finishes.

She never missed a Reef and Run swim this summer.


This award is made possible by American Riviera Bank

This award is made possible by American Riviera Bank

Each Month, Presidio Sports recognizes a local sports figure
for their extraordinary contribution to the Santa Barbara
athletic community. It is our way to recognize those who
are making a lasting impact in our sports community,
whether it is an inspirational athletic performance,
a lifetime achievement award, or perhaps a great
example of leadership.

“I have perfect attendance,” she said, proudly, after completing the season-ending Boat to Beach mile to East Beach.

Jones said she started swimming in the ocean at the age of 65. She took a class at City College and was hooked.

“I leave my green shoes with the lifeguard, so they know I’m out there and I swim for an hour,” she said. “This is without a wet suit. You have to be old and tough; you have to gain Adipose tissue, or fat, right?”

She encouraged her husband, Desmond, to take swim lessons after he nearly drowned when he was 47. He now swims 1,000 meters every other day at Los Banos at the age of 77.

“I’m committed to all ages,” Jones said.

In her promotional flyer, she says: “Swimming is great fun, but the bottom line is that water is dangerous for those of us who cannot swim, especially children. Just as someone taught you and me how to swim, perhaps you could now help children learn to swim.”

Jones said the ocean current can sometimes make it difficult for her to get back to shore. But she’s learned if there is a will, there is a way.

“Last week, it was kind of stormy and I asked (City of Santa Barbara Director of Aquatics) Rich Hanna, ‘How am I going to get in?‘ And Rich says to me, ‘Listen, you drove your car down here, you can get out of the water.’ So I just waited till I got to the last buoy and told the paddler, ‘You tell me when to start swimming in. You know I’m not fast.’”

Those challenges don’t deter her from going out again.

“It’s a lot of fun,” she said. “I don’t climb mountains, but the ocean is here, so why not swim in the ocean.”

Here’s how to support the Children’s Swim Fund:

Credit Card or Paypal Donations:
–On 2nd page please designate donation for “Monica’s Swim”

Check can be mailed to: PARC Foundation, P.O. Box 91742, Santa Barbara, CA 93190
–Make check payable to PARC Foundation with memo designating “Monica’s Swim”
–Federal Tax ID (#77-012-6823)

Questions can be directed to: [email protected] or 805-569-2407