At 3 a.m. on Oct. 9, 16-year-old Paige Kieding jumped into the inky black water surrounding Anacapa Island. Her goal was to swim the 12.4 miles across the Channel to Silver Strand Beach, Oxnard. Seven hours and one minute later, she stepped onto the sand, greeted by an enthusiastic crowd of well-wishers (and two relieved and exhilarated grandparents, Carpinterians Lynda Hershey and a Stephen Joyce).
A young environmental activist and athlete, Keiding, a junior at San Marcos High School swam the Channel to raise money and awareness for Santa Barbara Channelkeeper. Her goal was to raise $3,000.
“This swim was a dream of mine for quite some time, and something I trained for for over a year,” said Keiding. “Ive always loved being in the ocean. It gives me a sense of inner peace thats hard to find anywhere else… Marathon swimming makes me feel confident, brave and empowered. It allows me to push myself and discover what Im truly capable of.”
Keiding chose to use this swim as a platform to raise money for the Channelkeeper because she is passionate about their cause. “Ive grown up spending most of my days hanging out at the harbor, or the beach, or more recently, spending hours and hours in the ocean, training,” said Keiding. “I feel so lucky to be able to spend time in the ocean almost every day, and its so, so important to me that we do everything in our power to protect and conserve it. The Channelkeeper is making a huge impact in their efforts to do just that, which is why I wanted to use this swim as a platform to support their cause.”
This was Keiding’s seventh open water swim. At age 13 she swam from Alcatraz Island to San Francisco. The following year she swam around Alcatraz Island. She then did the Bridge to Bridge (Golden Gate to Oakland Bay bridges as well as two Semana Nautical swims. Last year, she completed the first two-person relay swim from Anacapa Island.
Santa Barbara Channelkeeper Board President, Mike Wondolowski, noted that "the physical accomplishments of this young athlete are outstanding. But what I see as Paiges most outstanding action is that she put the spotlight not on herself, but on protecting our environment and the furthering the mission of Channelkeeper. Seeing such community-minded action by todays youth should challenge us all to consider what more we each can do."