I started swimming at age five for Tantau Swim Club in San Jose, California. I swam through high school where I was part of our All American 400 free relay at Bellarmine College Prep in San Jose. Upon graduation, I headed south to UCLA where I swam for one year under legendary coach George Haines. I continued my aquatic career at UCLA as a back-up goalie on UCLA's water polo team (1974-1978). After finishing my graduate studies at UCLA, I moved to Philadelphia, where I continued swimming, but concentrated on triathlon. In 1990, my job brought me back to UCLA where I worked and got back into masters swimming. Another job change led to a move to Laguna Niguel in Orange County (CA)in 1994. I swam masters for awhile, but eventually met up with some open water swimmers who took me under their wings. I swam local ocean races of 1-3 miles until 1999. That year, I supported a friend, Scott Zornig, on his successful Catalina Channel swim (he has also completed MIMS). When he finished, he said, "Jimmy, you're next".
And, so began my marathon swimming career at age 47. As part of my training for Catalina in 2000, I participated in an event called The February Fitness Challenge (track your yardage for the entire month) to get some good winter base training. I ended up swimming 761,000 yards in the 29 days (26,000+ yds/day), setting the overall record for the event (which still stands). I swam from Catalina Island to the mainland (Los Angeles County) in 2001 in a time of 9h47m. I followed that up in 2003 with a first ever 6-man relay swim from San Clemente Island to the city of San Clemente (60+ miles in over 33 hours). In 2004, I set my sights on the English Channel, but was shut out by the weather. So, I put in another year of training, returned to Dover and succeeded on my first attempt. I survived the English Channel and finished on July 13th in Wissant, France with a time of 14h 32m. On September 9, 2006 I completed a solo Trans-Tahoe swim (S-N) from Camp Richardson to Hyatt Incline Beach (21.3 miles) in 12h 56m. The majority of the last 8 miles (over 5 hours) was done with one arm as I blew out my right shoulder 13 miles into the swim. My support crew gave me the option to swim laterally east or continue on north (they said I was going to get a crossing one way or another, but I wasn't getting on the boat in the middle of the lake). There is the value in a support crew with knowledge of the swimmer's abilities. In 2008, I returned to my roots with another Catalina crossing. But, this time, it was an unconventional crossing. I swam from the island to Newport pier in Orange County, a distance of 29 miles in 14h 59m. In 2008 and 2009, I also competed in the February Fitness Challenge, logging in 528,000 and 616,000 yards. My longest training day was 66,000 yards, with my midday workout of 55 x 500s. In 2009, my girlfriend (Cindy Walsh: Catalina Channel swimmer (twice) and MIMS swimmer) and I vacationed in Sandpoint, Idaho, which just happened to have a big lake beckoning us as swimmers. We completed a 15.25-mile swim there in just over 9 hours.
This year, I returned to beautiful Lake Tahoe for another solo crossing in reverse. This time,
I swam from Hyatt Incline Beach south to Camp Richardson in 14h 59m.
In addition to my swimming, I have volunteered as official observer and/or support swimmer for over 40 solo or relay marathon swims with the Catalina Channel Swimming Federation and the Santa Barbara Channel Swimming Association, as well as a double solo Maui crossing by Dr. Peter Attia.
I continue my year-round open water training in anticipation of one or two marathon-length swims next summer/fall.