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High Tide

The online student news site of Redondo Union High School

High Tide

The online student news site of Redondo Union High School

High Tide

Dawn ’til dusk

Students swam from Catalina Island to Palos Verdes to raise awareness about mental health.
Spotter boat following swimmers from Catalina Island to Palos Verdes. Photo by Jay L. Cledenin.

Swimming through darkness and open ocean for 11 hours, “determination” and “repetition” paid off. On Aug. 24, seven students and six adults swam from Catalina Island to Palos Verdes: the event lasted from Thursday night to Friday morning and  was arranged by Ocean Fever–a non-profit organization dedicated to teaching kids about ocean safety. 

Training three times a week in the early morning, the team had to trust the process and believe that the repetition would pay off in the future. 

Senior Alex Danylyshyn, the captain of the Catalina swim team, completed this challenge for a second time this year. As captain, Danylyshyn felt like he needed to “step [his leadership] up,” giving advice to his teammates and consulting with them over the preparation for the swim. 

“I wanted to prove to myself that I could do this great accomplishment and make an impact on people’s lives and mental health,” Danylyshyn said. “I also wanted to prove it to my teammates and take on that leadership role. I wanted to guide people through the process and give guidance to what I thought I would have needed last year.” 

According to Danylyshyn, it was not just his leadership but a bond within the team that kept the motivation strong throughout training and the day of the swim. 

“We were all positive for each other and the swimming community is positive in general and something I’m glad I stepped into. There was always this positive push to be better and get better times,” Danylyshyn said. 

The swim was a relay: each person swam for an hour, swapping out swimmers at the end of the time. Each hour was around 2 miles per leg, and everyone had a partner swimming with them. 

“Last year there were some mental health problems I was dealing with and because of this swim, going out in the ocean every morning and being in this big vast space was calming and set negative thoughts aside,” Danylyshyn said. “It allowed me to be in the moment, [which] helps this year too, because there’s been stressors with school, sports, and college applications. [The swim] was a way for me to look at all those things from a more positive angle.” 

Senior Tess Clendeninn also decided, for the first time, to take on the challenge of the 20 mile swim. Despite meticulous preparation, the actual swim brought on its own set of challenges. 

“In training I had gotten used to swimming and swimming back with no issue, but there were a few times where dolphins were very close to us and [we could] hear their echolocation,” Clendeninn said. “[There was a moment of] I’m going to have to do this in the dark, in the middle of the ocean. But, in those moments during the swim, I was thinking, ‘Just get through it.’”

The swim wasn’t just a physical challenge or personal accomplishment; it was bigger. This swim was organized to raise awareness for mental health. 

“We had names written on our arms of people who had passed away from suicide. It was meaningful to a lot of people to see that other people are willing to write these people’s names that they don’t know on their arms and swim for them, which I think was really moving,” Clendeninn said. 

Through the “vastness,”  “darkness,” and “challenges,” two sentiments emerged. One was resilience: “I feel like I can do anything. If I can swim across the channel in the middle of the night, I can do anything I want to,” Clendeninn said. The other being a sense of unity and support: “I think that we’ll always be swimming buddies.” 

Clendeninn recalls the swim and her own personal journey and states it was a “once in a lifetime experience.”

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About the Contributor
Scarlett Kindt
Scarlett Kindt, Writing and Copy Editor
I’m Scarlett. This is my second year on staff, as a writing editor! I love digital drawing, reading, and watching movies!

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