SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — She made it!
Kim Chambers completed her historic swim from the Farallon Islands to the Golden Gate Bridge just after 5 p.m., Saturday. Until now, the cold, shark-infested, 30-mile swim had only been done by men.
“There’s nothing more gratifying than pushing yourself and discovering really what you’re made of and what you can do with your body and your mind if you let it,” Chambers said. “This swim is scary, but it’s also so exciting.”
Chambers’ attempt to make history began Friday night around 11:15 p.m. Two boats traveled alongside the 38-year old, but she couldn’t touch them. They were only allowed to toss her food and water. Chamber said she had a tough time keeping anything down. The water was just over 60 degrees Fahrenheit, warm for this time of year, but she needed calories to prevent hypothermia. On top of that, she was swimming without a wetsuit.
Despite the difficulties, Chambers made it to the Golden Gate in just over 17 hours. A boat picked her up and whisked her to Belvedere where, exhausted, she hugged her mom and gave an emotional speech, breaking into tears.
“I’m completely overwhelmed,” she said. “It’s something I’ve wanted for so long, I can’t believe I did it.”
Chambers had nothing but praise for her crew. She said she couldn’t have done it without them.
“They say this is a solo swim, but it’s anything but,” she told reporters.
As for the sharks, there was word a seal had been attacked before she got in the water, but she went in anyway.
“I guess great whites don’t like Kiwi. It was pretty scary, I can’t believe I did that,” said the New Zealand native who made the Bay Area her home 20 years ago. “You’re swimming in the living room of great white sharks and you hope they’re not offended.”
A man Chambers trains with attempted the very same swim last week but had to cut it short because of a great white.
Simon Dominguez spotted the big shark circling around him. He immediately got out of the water, just 3 miles short of making history.
He told KPIX 5 he had no problem ending his swim early knowing there was a great white closing in.
Dominguez had been in the water for about 18 hours.
For Chambers, it took more than 17 hours for the Golden Gate to come into view. That’s when her crew started giving her the ‘thumbs up’ sign.
“I could see the bridge,” she said. “When you can see it, you know you have to finish. I had to dig really deep. Its going to take me a long time to process — I just knew I wasn’t going to get in and do it again.”
She doesn’t have to. Chambers is only the third person to make this grueling swim since 1967, and the first woman, ever.
“I wanted that honor,” said Chambers, “but it was up to Mother Nature. Anything could have gone wrong.”
Chambers is a classically trained ballerina and former rower at UC Berkeley. Now, she can add the Farallon-Golden Gate swim to her list of accomplishments. This one can go into the history books.
“I hope I can just inspire young women to dream big.”
CBSSF.com writer, producer Jan Mabry is also executive producer and host of The Bronze Report. She lives in Northern California. Follow her on Twitter @janmabr.