Strong winds, choppy ocean stop senior women’s channel relay swim

Mother Nature turned against the Sea Sprites senior women’s relay team in the final couple miles of its swim from Anacapa Island to Oxnard on Thursday.

Strong off shore winds stirred up the ocean and a small craft warning was issued. The conditions forced the team to end the relay.

The team consisted of six women ages 62-76. Santa Barbara’s Monica Jones, 73, was a member of the team. The relay started at 12:01 a.m. on Thursday. Each swimmer did an hour leg in the black of night. As they got closer to shore, the water conditions worsened.

“Things were going well going until 10 a.m., when we could clearly see our destination,” Jones said in an email. “There were already white caps on the ocean but suddenly the wind speed went up to 25 miles per hour coming off shore due to Santa Ana conditions. The wind was therefore blowing up against us and even our strongest swimmers, who had purposely planned to swim at this time in our six-lady rotation, could not make way against the wind, and the kayakers were having difficulty also.

“The ship’s captain and the official swim observers decided it was too dangerous to continue.”

Jones was swimming to raise funds to cover the cost of swim lessons for children in Santa Barbara.

“Even though we were not able to finish the swim, I am most grateful for your generous donations to swim lessons for children,” she said. “They will obviously not immediately be able to swim in conditions as we had but they will learn how to be generally safe in the water and they will learn basic swimming skills.”

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