On August 5, Anel Sytdykova became the first Kazakh to swim across the Catalina Channel, off the coast of California, Qazmonitor reports. The woman swam 34 kilometers non-stop for 18 hours and 19 minutes.
The Catalina Channel, located between the Santa Catalina Islands and the coast of Rancho Palos Verdes, is one of the Triple Crown of Open Water Swimming - a group of three historically important marathon swims - along with the English Channel (34km) and Manhattan Island Marathon Swim (48km), also known as 20 Bridges Swim.
Sytdykova, a native of Oral who lives in the UK, previously completed the English Channel in 2019 and the 20 Bridges Swim around Manhattan in June of this year. Crossing the Catalina has made her an official member of the Triple Crown of Open Water Swimming club, which had 265 members, as of December 2021.
Two of the swims, the Catalina and the English Channel, are also part of the Ocean’s Seven challenge created by the founder of the World Open Water Swimming Association, Steven Munatones, in 2008. Ocean’s Seven is comprised of the world’s 7 most dangerous open-water swims.
During her journey across Catalina, the Kazakh swimmer had to face numerous challenges, including unpredictable currents that can greatly increase swim time; significant drops in water temperature closer to the finish line; swimming in complete darkness; seasickness; and the presence of marine life, like dolphins and sharks.
She was observed by a team of 13 people - judges and assistants who accompanied her by boat. Two independent observers recorded all the details of the swim and made sure all the rules were adhered to. According to the rules, the swimmer is forbidden to touch the boat and use a wetsuit.