Valley swim team tackles big, cold swimming challenge

A Valley swim team faced one of their biggest challenges yet: swimming roughly 20 miles in the Catalina Channel in California.

The brave teens swam in the cold waters from the California coastline to Catalina Island, during the middle of the night. It's a challenge that many will not take, but the group of young teens did just that.

The six members accepted the challenge, but some of these longtime swimmers were secretly scared.

"I was freaking out," said a female member of the group. "But I'm the one that freaks out about this stuff."

"It was sharks," said one male member of the team. "That was the only thing I cared about. In practice, we swam that distance, so I wasn't worried about that."

For many it would be a scary thought to swim just a little over 20 miles from the California coastline to Catalina Island, in the dark, and not knowing what sea creatures are swimming next or beneath them.

For coach Kent Nicholas, however, he knew his team was capable.

"They are excellent athletes," said Nicholas. "Mentally, they are very tough, and I didn't have any doubts that they weren't able to do it, so I had to ask them to do it, and then ask their parents. That was a whole other step."

Luckily, the parents were on board.

Many of the kids have been swimming most of their lives, and practicing for the Catalina Relay Swim was no different from their regular practices.

"We only did one practice open water swim, and even then, we swam about the same that we swam for the actual Catalina swim, but for the most part, we just do our regular in-the-pool practices, and that keeps us in shape and prepared for longer swims like that," said one female member of the team.

Nicholas said if the kids believe in themselves, they could accomplish anything.

"They just have to have an idea that they can make it," said Nicholas. "That they can do it and have a belief in themselves, and have parents that encourage them to reach beyond what they thought was even possible."

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