Laura Lopez-Bonilla swims La Jolla Cove… then the Catalina Channel!

“It wasn’t an easy swim, wind against tide, and not sun once daylight broke. I had to overcome surgery, months of physical therapy, thyroid disease, and a last minute lower back concern treated by a great chiropractor in La Jolla. Phew!!!!! All put behind as I stepped into the dark waters of the Catalina Channel. As I took the first strokes, I knew I could. I have met some great people on the journey: Dr Michael Ackerman, Mimi and Richard Sampson, Heidi, and the crew of Outrider. And a huge thanks to my friend Pat Frank his unconditional support along this journey.”

Sometimes we have turning points in our lives and events such as completing a channel swim can be transformational. Laura is at just that point… her life is taking a turn for the better and this turn is marked by her successful Catalina Channel swim. I had some work commitments and wasn’t able to be on the escort boat for Laura’s swim, but we were able to share a few swims in La Jolla Cove before she went up to Los Angeles for her big swim. I met Laura 10 years ago when I was her observer for her first English Channel swim in 2002. Laura become the second Spanish woman to swim the English Channel that day and we’ve been good friends ever since. One of the best gifts of this sport is the lifelong friendships forged on various beaches around the world, as we train for and step in the water to swim from one body of land to another.

Laura’s Catalina Channel swim turned out to be more difficult than most this season, as she battled choppy water and wind the whole way across. Well-supported by crew and determined, Laura persevered. Knowing this was a turn-a-round moment in her life, she would not give up, even when during a particularly dark hour of her swim Laura was told she would have to swim 4 1/2 more hours to the finish. Swallowing that information and processing it took a while, but she re-calibrated her mind and swam on, knowing she would be successful, no matter how long it took. 14 hours and 31 minutes after stepping in the sea at Catalina Island, Laura Lopez-Bonilla crawled out onto Terranea Beach, a successful Catalina Channel swimmer.

Laura had never been greeted at the finish of either of her successful English Channel swims, as she swam in to the beach in France during the middle of the night. This swim had a special surprise in store for Laura…

Our friends from Mexico City, Nora Toledano, Mariel Hawley, Gela Limonchi and Ariadna Del Villar were in town for Mariel’s swim the following day. All swam out to escort Laura in to the beach. What a welcoming committee!!!

Muchas Felicidades, Laura !!!