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Pleasanton Preps: Amador alum Breed recounts marathon swim from Santa Cruz to Monterey

'This is just a chance to see as a human, how tough are you'

Talk to former Amador Valley High and UC Berkeley swimmer Catherine Breed about her open water, marathon swims and she will tell you three or four times, "I'm not crazy, honestly."

Pleasanton native Catherine Breed sits on the beach after swimming from Santa Cruz to Monterey in a record 12 hours, 42 minutes on Sept. 21-22. (Photo courtesy of Breed family)

Then listen to her accomplishments and your next question is, "Are you sure about that?"

To call the 27-year-old Breed an elite athlete would not be giving her the justice she deserves. Simply, it is amazing.

At 9 p.m. on Sept. 21, Breed jumped into the water of the Monterey Bay in Santa Cruz and swam to Monterey, covering the 25-mile swim in a record time of 12 hours and 42 minutes.

Breed's Monterey swim also raised $2,000 for Diversity in Aquatics, a nonprofit that brings swimming programs to communities and helps reduce drowning rates.

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Talking with Breed earlier this, week one question kept coming to mind -- why?

"This is just a chance to see as a human, how tough are you," explained Breed. "Whether it's someone free climbing El Capitan, swimming the English Channel (which she has), or other stuff, these things are there for us to do."

Follow along at this latest incredible adventure.

When she hit the water, Breed wasn't alone as there was someone on a paddleboard alongside of her, as well as a boat with family out in front. The boat had blinking lights that allowed her to plot her course in the dark.

"It was so dark when I got in the water, and the fog came in, which made it even darker," Breed explained.

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The darkness also meant she had no chance to see the jellyfish.

"The jellyfish were stinging my face all night," recounted Breed. "I couldn't see them."

How do you get in the water knowing jellyfish and possibly sharks are waiting? Is she fearless?

"No," Breed said. "People are always asking me if I was scared of the sharks and the jellyfish. I was sick to my stomach with fear the first three hours. But then you get to the point where I was welcoming the stings. They were a distraction to any physical pain."

There was one wondrous thing about the night swim as Breed was swimming through a bloom of bioluminescent phytoplankton. It has been called "nature's light show," and it was amazing to Breed.

"You see pictures of it, but is so much cooler in the water," Breed said. "It's like glitter that glows in the dark. Pictures just don't do it justice."

By the time the sun came up Breed, who took 10- to 20-second breaks every half hour, was able to see, but she now also was able to see the swarms of jellyfish.

"I was swimming over thousands of jellyfish," Breed said. "I ended up getting stung 55 times. That was lucky because it could have been a thousand stings."

After the exhausting all-night swim, Breed finally reached her destination -- San Carlos Beach in Monterey. As one can imagine, it was a little tough to stand.

"I stood up and then did a face-plant," Breed said, laughing. "But I had to get back up because the rules say you have to finish on dry sand."

It was about six more yards for Breed to cover and she did that before falling to her knees.

After an event like that, it must be time for Breed, who is a medical device sales representative, to a take a break.

Then again, not for someone like Breed.

"On Oct. 10, I am taking part in the Uberman relay," Breed said.

What is the Uberman? Well, it's intense.

It's a 556-mile three-person relay with Breed starting on Catalina Island, swimming 21 miles to the shores of Palos Verdes. Next is a 400-mile mile bike route from Los Angeles to Badwater Basin. The last leg is a 135-mile run through Death Valley before ascending 13,000 feet to the trailhead at Mt. Whitney.

"We're going to try to set the record," Breed said of her team.

For more information or insight into Breed's swims, please visit her website at www.beyondtheblackline.com.

Editor's note: Dennis Miller is a contributing sports writer for the Pleasanton Weekly. To contact him about his "Pleasanton Preps" column, email [email protected]

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Pleasanton Preps: Amador alum Breed recounts marathon swim from Santa Cruz to Monterey

'This is just a chance to see as a human, how tough are you'

by / Pleasanton Weekly

Uploaded: Tue, Sep 29, 2020, 12:28 pm

Talk to former Amador Valley High and UC Berkeley swimmer Catherine Breed about her open water, marathon swims and she will tell you three or four times, "I'm not crazy, honestly."

Then listen to her accomplishments and your next question is, "Are you sure about that?"

To call the 27-year-old Breed an elite athlete would not be giving her the justice she deserves. Simply, it is amazing.

At 9 p.m. on Sept. 21, Breed jumped into the water of the Monterey Bay in Santa Cruz and swam to Monterey, covering the 25-mile swim in a record time of 12 hours and 42 minutes.

Breed's Monterey swim also raised $2,000 for Diversity in Aquatics, a nonprofit that brings swimming programs to communities and helps reduce drowning rates.

Talking with Breed earlier this, week one question kept coming to mind -- why?

"This is just a chance to see as a human, how tough are you," explained Breed. "Whether it's someone free climbing El Capitan, swimming the English Channel (which she has), or other stuff, these things are there for us to do."

Follow along at this latest incredible adventure.

When she hit the water, Breed wasn't alone as there was someone on a paddleboard alongside of her, as well as a boat with family out in front. The boat had blinking lights that allowed her to plot her course in the dark.

"It was so dark when I got in the water, and the fog came in, which made it even darker," Breed explained.

The darkness also meant she had no chance to see the jellyfish.

"The jellyfish were stinging my face all night," recounted Breed. "I couldn't see them."

How do you get in the water knowing jellyfish and possibly sharks are waiting? Is she fearless?

"No," Breed said. "People are always asking me if I was scared of the sharks and the jellyfish. I was sick to my stomach with fear the first three hours. But then you get to the point where I was welcoming the stings. They were a distraction to any physical pain."

There was one wondrous thing about the night swim as Breed was swimming through a bloom of bioluminescent phytoplankton. It has been called "nature's light show," and it was amazing to Breed.

"You see pictures of it, but is so much cooler in the water," Breed said. "It's like glitter that glows in the dark. Pictures just don't do it justice."

By the time the sun came up Breed, who took 10- to 20-second breaks every half hour, was able to see, but she now also was able to see the swarms of jellyfish.

"I was swimming over thousands of jellyfish," Breed said. "I ended up getting stung 55 times. That was lucky because it could have been a thousand stings."

After the exhausting all-night swim, Breed finally reached her destination -- San Carlos Beach in Monterey. As one can imagine, it was a little tough to stand.

"I stood up and then did a face-plant," Breed said, laughing. "But I had to get back up because the rules say you have to finish on dry sand."

It was about six more yards for Breed to cover and she did that before falling to her knees.

After an event like that, it must be time for Breed, who is a medical device sales representative, to a take a break.

Then again, not for someone like Breed.

"On Oct. 10, I am taking part in the Uberman relay," Breed said.

What is the Uberman? Well, it's intense.

It's a 556-mile three-person relay with Breed starting on Catalina Island, swimming 21 miles to the shores of Palos Verdes. Next is a 400-mile mile bike route from Los Angeles to Badwater Basin. The last leg is a 135-mile run through Death Valley before ascending 13,000 feet to the trailhead at Mt. Whitney.

"We're going to try to set the record," Breed said of her team.

For more information or insight into Breed's swims, please visit her website at www.beyondtheblackline.com.

Editor's note: Dennis Miller is a contributing sports writer for the Pleasanton Weekly. To contact him about his "Pleasanton Preps" column, email [email protected]

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