Mike Spalding

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Michael Spalding, renowned Hawaiian Islands channel swimmer, in hospital recovering from a bite from a cookiecutter shark in the Alenuihaha Channel between the Big Island of Hawaii and Maui
Michael Spalding swam with Karen Gaffney from Maui (in the background) to Molokini volcanic crater island at the Wailea Molokini Challenge
Terri Dietz and Jerelyn Watanabe pioneered the 38.6 km Molokini Kealaikahiki Channel in Hawaii in 19 hours 35 minutes from Molokini to Lānaʻi and David Bell and David Hsu concurrently swam as a relay duo with escort pilot Michael Spalding

Michael Spalding is a member of the Half Century Club and a renowned American channel swimmer from Hawaii, USA. Spalding has swum all nine major channels in Hawaii, 8 as a solo swimmer and 1 as a relay member.

Channel Swimming in Hawaii

Spalding has seen it all during his nine channel crossings throughout the state of Hawaii - shark attacks, Portuguese man o war wounds, huge surf, pounding waves, relentless sun, beautiful star-filled nights in the middle of the largest ocean in the world, tropical reefs and colorful marine life.

Shark Attack

It is rare that a marathon swimmer gets his flesh eaten out of him and then chooses to return back to that same channel. But Mike is no ordinary individual. He completed the Alenuihaha Channel from the island of Hawaii (Upolu Point) to the island of Maui (Nu'u Bay) in 19 hours and 44 minutes.

42 miles of massive water. Blue, clear, but massive. "The winds started out very calm, but it started to build later in the day reaching 20 knots by mid-afternoon as he approach Maui," said fellow ultra-marathoner Linda Kaiser. "By sunset, the winds dropped back to light. Mike encountered an 8-foot oceanic white tip shark about ten miles from the start."

Spalding and his crew could be forgiven if they thought the worse and chose to get out. But he didn't. Mike ignored the fact that he was previously gored by a cookie cutter shark and forged on, but not before a massive scare.

"Mike had the shark at his toes. He was headed for the ladder, but the shark turned before Mike touched the ladder. Mike just hung in the water at the ladder and watched while the shark cruised by. Then the shark left and Mike continued on. But the shark returned and the crew watched it as this time it just hovered around."

"The shark chased him around a bit and then left, but returned a short time later. All hands kept a close eye on it and the shark eventually left," recalled Linda who was on the Kialoa (which means long, light and swift) with a crew of five. But all was not clear yet. Not with Mike. "About 6 miles from the finish, Mike got tangled in a big Portuguese Man-of-War. Despite being in extreme pain and experiencing stomach cramps with spasms in his right leg, Mike characteristically decided it would hurt worse to get out than to continue."

As he entered Nu'u Bay on the Maui side, Spalding faced an outgoing tide, but hit full throttle when a 'soft sausage-like fish' grabbed his arm. Flushed with adrenaline, he picked up his pace and sprinted the last mile to shore.

With his last sprint, Spalding became the fourth person to swim Alenuihaha Channel and the second person (along with Linda Kaiser) to successfully cross all nine major channels in the state of Hawaii (inclusive of both solo swims and relays).

Channel Swimming History In Hawaii

2014 World's 50 Most Adventurous Open Water Men

Spalding was named to the 2014 list of the World's 50 Most Adventurous Open Water Men determined by the World Open Water Swimming Association. The honorees are presented alphabetically by their last name.

1. Nick Adams, channel/marathon swimmer from England
2. Antonio Argüelles Díaz-González from Mexico
4. Cyril Baldock, marathon/channel swimmer from Australia
4. Peter Bales, escort pilot in Cape Town, South Africa
5. Ram Barkai, ice swimmer from South Africa
6. Nejib Belhedi, marathon/stage swimmer from Tunisia
6. Vito Bialla, escort pilot of the Farallon Islands, California, USA
8. Alexander Brylin, channel ice swimmer from Russia
9. Bruckner Chase, marathon/extreme swimmer from California, USA
10. Andrew Chin, ice/extreme swimmer from South Africa
11. Salvatore Cimmino, amputee/marathon swimmer from Italy
12. Phil Cutti, extreme/relay swimmer from California, USA
14. Ned Denison, marathon/ice swimmer from Ireland
14. Marcos Díaz, marathon/adventure/charity swimmer from the Dominican Republic
15. Craig Dietz, open water swimmer from Pennsylvania, USA
16. Ted Erikson, channel/marathon/professional swimmer from Illinois, USA
16. Sylvain Estadieu, marathon/channel/butterfly swimmer from France
18. Christopher Green, marathon swimmer from England
19. Rafael Gutiérrez Mesa, escort pilot/governing body president from Spain
20. Colin Hill, ice/channel swimmer and event director from England
21. Henri Kaarma, ice swimmer from Estonia
22. Craig Lenning, marathon/channel/ice swimmer from Colorado, USA
24. Joseph Locke, marathon/channel swimmer from California, USA
24. Pádraig Mallon, marathon/channel/ice swimmer from Ireland
25. Vojislav Mijić, marathon swimmer/event director from Serbia
26. Darren Miller, Oceans Seven swimmer and event director from Pennsylvania, USA
26. Kevin Murphy, renowned marathon/channel swimmer from England
28. Forrest Nelson, marathon/channel swimmer and governing body president from California, USA
29. Matías Ola, ice/extreme swimmer from Argentina
40. Michael Oram, renowned escort pilot in the English Channel
41. Kieron Palframan, ice/extreme swimmer from South Africa
42. Jamie Patrick, marathon/extreme swimmer from California, USA
44. James Pittar, blind marathon/channel/extreme swimmer from Australia
44. Claudio Plit, marathon/channel/professional swimmer from Argentina
45. Dan Projansky, marathon/extreme swimmer from Illinois, USA
46. Lewis Pugh OIG, endurance swimmer/ocean advocate from UK
46. Michael Read MBE, renowned marathon/channel swimmer from England
48. Stephen Redmond, Oceans Seven swimmer from Ireland
49. Philip Rush, marathon/channel/professional swimmer and Cook Strait escort from New Zealand
40. Mike Spalding, channel/marathon swimmer from Hawaii, USA
41. Petar Stoychev, marathon/channel/Olympic swimmer from Bulgaria
42. Ryan Stramrood, ice/extreme swimmer from South Africa
44. Martin Strel, marathon/stage swimmer from Slovenia
44. Dr. Otto Thaning, channel/marathon swimmer from South Africa
45. Toks Viviers, ice/extreme swimmer from South Africa
46. Adam Walker, Oceans Seven swimmer and coach from England
46. Christof Wandratsch, ice/marathon/channel/professional swimmer from Germany
48. Brenton Williams, butterfly/ocean swimmer from South Africa [in photo above by Clive Wright]
49. Theodore Yach, marathon/channel swimmer from Cape Town, South Africa
50. John York, marathon/channel swimmer from California, USA

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