Anacapa Island Swim

Title: "The Third Leg of the 'California Triple Crown' Acquired for Our Country in the Centennial Year of Our Republic: Anacapa"


In July 2022, after completing my goals at Lake Tahoe, I read the news of a foreign swimmer winning the 'California Triple Crown' in the virtual realm. This title was achieved by swimming the Catalina Channel, Lake Tahoe, and Anacapa. For me, obtaining this title required swimming just Anacapa.

I immediately started corresponding with the relevant federation. I asked, 'Can I swim in September 2022?' They instructed me to communicate with the captains. While planning to swim in 2022 in my correspondence with the captains, I learned the reality that there were no spots available even for 2023. However, in the latest news, I received a message from captains Zach and Brent that I could swim in September 2023.

I also needed to find a kayaker. I reached out to the wonderful person I knew from the virtual world, Dan Simonelli (this year awarded the title of honor coach by the 'International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame'). Upon receiving his approval, I registered at the last minute.

After completing the registration process, I started examining the route with Coach Furkan Serbest. The route had a swimming distance of 20 km from Anacapa Island to Oxnard on the mainland. Despite the short distance, it was a challenging route due to the strong currents between the island and the mainland. Due to the constantly changing currents, the swimming distance could extend up to 30 km. In light of this information, Coach Furkan coordinated my training. This year, I conducted short swimming workouts in Istanbul's pool and long-distance and cold-water training in Datça.

My dear friends Ali Gülyüz and his wife Birsen Aygül Gülyüz also decided to come to the U.S. to support me on the boat, and we formed a great team.


After completing my preparations, on September 2nd, I traveled to the United States with a 15-hour journey. However, during the flight, I landed with a high fever due to a bacterial infection. With fever reducers, antibiotics, and vitamins, I recovered in two days and continued my training. The decreased immunity during training made the 17-degree Celsius sea temperature feel like 12 degrees Celsius. By the way, when coming ashore after training, the large waves that took our caps and goggles were quite a surprise – a day's difference! :)


When the organization confirmed that the transition day would be on September 8th, on September 7th, Gürkan and Aygül and I made all our preparations and went to the harbor at 03:00 in the morning on September 8th. In the harbor, we met our referee Peter Hayden, kayaker Dan Simonelli, captain Brent Eriksen, and assistant captain Liam Hadrys. After boarding the Raptor, a briefing was given. Since the transition was in a rocky area, it would start by swimming towards the island and touching it. Because the region was rocky, they told me to swim slowly and carefully as the place I would touch could be sharp. They also mentioned that as we approached the island, there would be ocean forests, and these forests would wrap around my entire body and pull me down. I thought they might be exaggerating in this regard or even joking.

Finally, the boat approached the island. After getting ready, I started swimming towards the island. Dan Simonelli led the way with his kayak. While following him, the branches of the ocean forests began to wrap around my body, and I realized that what was said on the boat was not a joke. :)

When I reached the island, Dan Simonelli pointed out the place I would touch with a flashlight. The rocky area, shining in its light, looked very sharp. After lightly touching my hand and getting the okay sign, I slowly turned back and started swimming through the rocks. Perhaps the first half-hour, possibly due to the illness I had, was very challenging. I couldn't adapt at all. After the first hour, when it was time to feed, I realized that I couldn't get far from the island. Thinking that it would be better when it dawned, I motivated myself and continued to swim. The dawn increased my motivation. The critical target on this route was the Gina oil platform, but I couldn't see it. When I asked my friend Gürkan during a feeding why I couldn't see the platform, he told me that it was to our left and hadn't appeared yet. Approximately two hours later, the Gina oil platform finally appeared. Initially, this motivated me, but over time, I realized that I was struggling to get closer due to the current. At one point, Dan Simonelli, the kayaker, was not paddling at all, and the boat seemed to be standing still while I was swimming between the boat and the kayak.

After the fourth hour, during a feeding, Gürkan told me that the current was pushing us to the left, and the captain was guiding me to swim to the right to overcome this current. He also mentioned that when we reached the Gina oil platform, the current would be in our favor. These words motivated me a lot. I said to myself, "Push on, Vural, when you reach the Gina platform, it will be over because there is only about 7.5-8 km left, and the current is in our favor. It will be like swimming between Meis and Kaş."

Meanwhile, while swimming, I saw two sea lion cubs accompanying me. It seemed like they wanted to play a game.

We reached Gina after six hours. Hundreds of sea lions had climbed the iron bars under the platform, making sounds and sunbathing. It was as if they were cheering for me, saying, "Welcome, Vural, strengthen your strokes, you're almost there." This feeling gave me a new strength; the ocean was truly on my side. I was swimming more easily, getting closer and closer to the shore. During the seventh feeding, Gürkan told me that this feeding would be the last one, and the ocean would assist me until 1 km before the shore, but afterwards, I would need to swim stronger to finish due to the coastal current. Now, my motivation was high, and I had full confidence that I would finish. When I was about 200-300 meters from stepping ashore, my friend Gürkan jumped into the water to give me our Atatürk flag and take pictures. As I stepped ashore, I saw a woman on the beach applauding me; I thought she was a tourist. However, when she ran up to hug me, I started to run away, fearing disqualification because, before the boat horn sounded, touching by someone on the land was a disqualifying reason. It turned out the boat had already sounded the horn, and this woman was the legendary captain Down Brooks, who had arranged hundreds of transitions here. :)
When the situation was understood, I hugged Captain Down Brooks. We took pictures. This was another unforgettable and beautiful memory for me.

The swimming team was great—SBCSA President and referee Peter Hayden, excellent kayaker and open water enthusiast Dan Simonelli, Captain Brent, and, of course, my dear friends Gürkan Ali Gülyüz and

 Aygül Birsen Gülyüz. I thank everyone in the team immensely. 🙏🙏🙏 Also, I would like to thank my family, Coach Furkan Serbest, my dear friends Mehmet Erdoğan and President Tanju Karahan, Kabataş Boys' High School Alumni Association, BJK Kabataş Foundation Private Schools President Hasan Anıl Cansızoğlu, Kabataş Community, and all friends who supported me. 🙏🙏🙏

Wishing everyone to achieve their dreams and goals.

With love and respect,

R. Vural Tandoğan