Night Train Swimmers
noun - 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.
The Night Train Swimmers have 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.
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.
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 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
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 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
- Gordon Clute
- Kathy Winkler
- Susan Moody
- Simon Dominguez
- Emily Branson
- Marshall Boyd
- Mandy Boyd
- Patrick Horn
- Duane Franks
- Drew Aune
- Craig Lenning
- Martin Strel
- Elsa Holscher
- Grace van der Byl
- Mauricio Prieto
- Hannah Holscher
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.
Sueño 88 is a group of 6 open water swimmers who will attempt to swim 88 nautical miles (101 miles of 163 km) across the Sea of Cortez from the Baja California peninsula to the mainland of Mexico. Sueño 88 is an initiative by the Night Train Swimmers and Swim4Good and includes David Ogden, Mauricio Prieto, Luane Rowe, Richard Ernst, Shannon Navarro, Susan Moody Prieto, and Vito Bialla (escort boat pilot).
Two-way Farallon Relay
The two-way Farallon relay was a 6-person 60-mile (95.6 km) relay from the Golden Gate Bridge to the Farallon Islands in the Pacific Ocean off the coast of San Francisco Bay, on 25 April 2015. They stopped on a one-way crossing at the buoy located at Fisherman's Cove at the South Farallon Island. The swim is sanctioned by the Farallon Islands Swimming Association. Members included Emily Kreger, Patti Bauernfeind, Simon Dominguez, Kim Chambers, Ashley Horne, Dave Holscher, Kate Webber, Vito Bialla and David Ogden, M.D.
The members of the Night Train Swimmers team completed the first 1-mile circumnavigation swim around Chocolate Chip rock, starting at Devil's Teeth in the Farallon Islands including Vito Bialla, Dave Holscher, Kim Chambers, Kate Weber, Simon Dominguez, and Ashley Horne on 12 July 2015 amid the presence of Great White Sharks.
The Night Train 300 (or NT300) is an attempt by the Night Train Swimmers to swim 300 miles (482.2 km) non-stop as a six-person open water swimming relay in San Francisco Bay. The charity event that will begin on 6 September 2015 is a fundraiser for Arthur Renowitzky walk again after being paralyzed by a gun shot wound to his spine, they will attempt to set the distance record for a 6-person open water swimming relay.
Adhering to standard English Channel relay rules, NT300 will swim continuously in 1-hour individual rotations for an estimated 5 days in an attempt to break the existing distance record [currently held a team from India, called The Sea Hawks that swam for 269 miles (433 km) over 6 days off the Konkan Coast in western India). They will swim in San Francisco Bay as far south as the Giants Stadium and as far north as Benicia with the goal is raise US$50,000 to be able to help make Arthur Renowitzky walk again by outfitting him with a exoskeleton REWALK suit.
2015 World Open Water Swimming Performance of the Year Nominee
1. Andreas Fath (Germany) Swim for Science
2. Andrea Fazio (Italy) Like Father, Like Son
3. Christian Reichert (Germany) FINA World Cup Champion
4. Dan Projansky (U.S.A.) Butterflying Marathoner
5. Jim Clifford (U.S.A.) Oldest Triple Crowner
6. Fast and Frozen by Henri Kaarma (Estonia), Ryan Stramrood (South Africa), Anna Carin-Nordin (Sweden), Patrick Corcoran (Ireland), Zdeněk Thalmika (Czech Republic), Elina Makïnen (Finland) Two-way North Channel Relay
7. Ganga Avahan by by Paramvir Singh, Gullupilli Narahari, Saripilli Srihari (India) Stage Swimmers
8. Jordan Wilimovsky (U.S.A.) Olympian & World Champion
9. Kelly Gneiting (U.S.A.) Sumo Swimmer
10. Kimberley Chambers (New Zealand) Farallon Freestyler
11. Matthew Moseley (U.S.A.) Trifecta Lake-Ocean-River Swimmer
12. Mike Arbuthnot (South Africa) Midmar Mile Founder
13. Nejib Belhedi (Tunisia) Camel Swim
14. Night Train Swimmers by Grace van der Byl, Dave Holscher, Kimberley Chambers, Adam Eilath, Ashley Horne, Vito Bialla (U.S.A./New Zealand) NT300 Relay
15. Oceans Seven Relay by Rick Gaenzle, Chris Kraus, Brian Ross (U.S.A.) Triumphant Trio
16. Susan Simmons (Canada) Swimming with Multiple Sclerosis
17. Swim The Eden Expedition by Calum Hudson, Jack Hudson, Robbie Hudson (Great Britain) Brotherly Wild Swim
18. Team Nadadores Locos by Amy Appelhans Gubser, Kirk McKinney, Les Mangold, John Sims, Jeff Everett, Andrew McLaughlin (U.S.A.) Two-way Farallon Islands Relay
19. The Old Men And The Sea Relay by Don Baker, Dr. Bill Spore, Dave Radcliffe, Graham Johnston, Bob Best, Bob Beach, Norm Stupfel (U.S.A.) Catalina Cruisers
20. The Deep Enders by Jim McConica, Tom Ball, John Chung, Zach Jirkovsky, Tamie Stewart, Stacey Warmuth (U.S.A.) San Nicholas Channelers
21. Theodore Yach (South Africa) Robben Island Swimmer
22. Trent Theroux (U.S.A.) Comeback Circumnavigation
23. Wendy Trehiou (Jersey) Saint Malo to Jersey
2015 WOWSA Award Nomination
The Night Train Swimmers' 2015 World Open Water Swimming Performance of the Year nomination reads as follows:
Night Train Swimmers by Grace van der Byl, Dave Holscher, Kimberley Chambers, Adam Eilath, Ashley Horne, Vito Bialla (U.S.A./New Zealand) NT300 Relay
The Night Train Swimmers continue to up the bar for six-person relays and charitable giving. Every year they do something new and inspirational. This year's NT300 relay accomplished their goal of swimming 300 non-stop miles in San Francisco Bay. They swam a total of 500.5 km (311 miles) from Monday to Friday, a tough work week where they raised enough money to help gunshot victim Arthur Renowitzky receive expensive cutting-edge technology to help him walk again. Grace van der Byl, Dave Holscher, Kimberley Chambers, Adam Eilath, Ashley Horne, and Vito Bialla survived and thrived on very little sleep, a lot of hard work, and much inspiration throughout 5 days and nights in the chilly San Francisco Bay. For their charitable effort on behalf of a young man, for their record-setting distance swims, and for their efforts to raise as much money as possible for others in need, the Night Train Swimmers is a worthy nominee for the 2015 World Open Water Swimming Performance of the Year.