Night Train Swimmers

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Phil Cutti, David Holscher, Zach Jirkovsky, Luane Rowe, Blair Cannon, and Grace van der Byl of the Night Train Swimmers walking onshore after a 228-mile non-stop relay down the California coast between 22-26 August 2013, escorted by Captain Vito Bialla
Night Train Swimmers in the Farallon Islands
Night Train Swimmers
Night Train Swimmers en route to the Farallon Islands
Vito Bialla, Entrepreneur and Extreme Swimmer
The Night Train Swimmers is a group of San Francisco Bay Area extreme open water swimmers who work together to improve the lives of people around the world by raising money for various non-profit organizations. This all-volunteer organization was founded in 2008 and started with a five-person relay crossing of the English Channel.

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Courtesy of worldopenwaterswimmingassociation.com



It has since grown in membership and impact each year since with marathon relay swims in the Sea of Cortez in Mexico, Lake Powell bordering the states of Arizona and to the Farallon Islands off the coast of San Francisco. Its mission is to swim for charity.

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Nighttrain228

The Night Train Swimmers set the world record for the longest non-stop ocean relay swim in history, called the Nighttrain228 when they completed a 228-mile (367 km) swim down the California coast from Gaviota State Park to a small beach near the San Diego Yacht Club in 100 hours 28 minutes from 22-26 August 2013. Under the direction of captain Vito Bialla with navigator Hal McCormick and Observer Patrick Horn, its relay members included Phil Cutti, David Holscher, Zach Jirkovsky, Luane Rowe, Blair Cannon, and Grace van der Byl.

History

In 2007, a few swimmers in the San Francisco Bay Area decided they would attempt a swim across the English Channel the following year. They joined a few casual acquaintances for some training swims in the Bay, and by 2008 Night Train Swimmers was formed to raise money for a local non-profit organization by completing a five-person relay crossing. 18 months after deciding to organize the swim, the Night Train Swimmers completed the fastest five-person crossing of the English Channel that year and raised more than US$25,000 for their local community.

The Lifehouse Foundation was the first recipient of Night Train Swimmers' support of people with developmental disabilities.

Later, the Night Train Swimmers completed a relay swim from Sacramento to Tiburon to raise money for the Reed School Foundation, supporting their local public school district. The following year, the team stepped up to raise money for Wounded Warrior Project.

2012 World Open Water Swimming Performance of the Year Nomination

The Night Train Swimmers' SF to SB Relay was nominated for the 2012 World Open Water Swimming Performance of the Year award. The World Open Water Swimming Association nomination reads,

The Night Train Swimmers not only raised a mind-boggling US$1.2 million (and counting for Semper Fi) in their non-stop 339-mile (546 km) charity swim attempt down the California coast from San Francisco (SF) to Santa Barbara (SB), but they also endured 6 days of non-stop swimming through endless blooms of venomous jellyfish and water than never got above 14°C. Hour after hour, day after day, the six swimmers - Phil Cutti, Patti Bauernfeind, Dave Holscher, Joseph Locke, Kim Chambers and Zack Jirkovsky - battled the elements under the watchful eye of Captain Vito Bialla. They followed channel swimming rules, always mindful that their temporary discomforts were helping injured soldiers whose lifetimes are filled with discomfort. Although Mother Nature won this skirmish when the hardened group of intrepid adventurers was stopped after 109 hours by endless blooms of venomous jellyfish, the victory was ultimately theirs. For the audacity of their vision, for their charitable efforts on behalf of men and women in uniform, for the US$1.2 million raised, the indomitable Night Train Swimmers are worthy nominees for the 2012 WOWSA Open Water Swimming Performance of the Year.

2013 World Open Water Swimming Performance of the Year Nomination

The Night Train Swimmers' world record relay in 2013 was nominated for the 2013 World Open Water Swimming Performance of the Year.

17 times in and out of the water over 4 days, each of the Night Train Swimmers smiled in the face of gale force winds and small craft advisories. In one of the most audacious relays in history, the pod from San Francisco was courageous in setting the world record for distance covered in the ocean: 228 miles down the coast of California. Captained by Vito Bialla with Hal McCormick and Patrick Horn, Phil Cutti, David Holscher, Zach Jirkovsky, Luane Rowe, Blair Cannon, and Grace van der Byl spent over 100 hours swimming non-stop in a charity swim on behalf of the Navy SEAL Foundation. Like the war heroes they were helping, the swimmers were unselfishly dedicated, and worked seamlessly as one. For flawless execution of their plans, for their calm and measured reaction when Mother Nature tossed them around in a fury, for their commitment to help others, the 228-mile relay by the Night Train Swimmers is a worthy nominee for the 2013 World Open Water Swimming Performance of the Year.

Board of Directors

The board includes Vito Bialla (President), Matthew Davie (Secretary), John Mathews, Scott Stiteler, David Holscher and Phil Cutti.

Members

The Night Team Swimmers are a eclectic group of accomplished and passionate people with an incredible breath of talents who include Vito Bialla, Matthew Davie Ph.D., John Mathews, Scott Stiteler, David Holscher, Phil Cutti, William "Spanky" Gibson, JC Sheppard, Emily Young, Darrin Connolly, Kim Chambers and Gordon Clute.

SF to SB Relay

The Night Train Swimmers attempted the world's longest non-stop ocean relay swim attempt (339 miles or 545.4km) in September 2012 with Phil Cutti, Patti Bauernfeind, Dave Holscher, Joe Locke, Kim Chambers and Zack Jirkovsky, and crew Vito Bialla and Patrick Horn. It was halted after 6 days due to bloom after bloom of venomous jellyfish.

2012 World Open Water Swimming Offering of the Year Nomination

The Night Train Swimmers were nominated for the 2012 World Open Water Swimming Offering of the Year award. Its World Open Water Swimming Association nomination reads, The Night Train Swimmers provide an ongoing opportunity to marathon swimmers of the hardiest kind. In a selfless effort to bring awareness and financial support to a number of non-profit organizations with Semper Fi at its core, the group of swimmers from the San Francisco area envisions marathon swims that require the ultimate of audacity and courage. The longer, the colder, the rougher the conditions are, the more engaged the Night Train Swimmers become – and seemingly the more money they raise for good causes. They welcome the unexpected. They relish on risk. They love the challenge. They encourage only those hardened enough and selfless enough to join their mission: to improve the lives of people around the world by raising money for non-profit organizations through unprecedented marathon swims. For their vision, selflessness and seeking their potential in the most inhospitable conditions possible, the Night Train Swimmers are a worthy nominee for the 2012 WOWSA Open Water Swimming Offering of the Year.

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