Six endurance swimmers attempting a relay route today from the seaward Farallon Islands to the Golden Gate Bridge are nearly halfway there, according to an online GPS tracker at 12:45 p.m.
South End Rowing Club members Vito Bialla, Darrin Connolly, Phil Cutti, David Holscher, Joe Locke and John Mathews, all Marin County residents, left in a boat at 6:30 this morning after spending the night docked at the Farallons.
If successful, they will arrive at the bridge by 7 tonight. Escorted by the 43-foot boat, the swimmers will take turns for an hour each as they make their way to the Bay.
The last known successful attempt of the relay type was in 1969, and the last successful solo attempt was in 1967. The relay style has each swimmer a take one-hour turn for about 13 hours total in this case. Interviewed Wednesday, they said they would have to call it off at 16 hours when the tide will begin to drag them back out to sea.
This current group of six swimmers attempted the same feat in June 2010, but one came down with hypothermia a little over 40 minutes into his turn. They attempted again on March 15, but high seas, and perhaps the ominous Ides of March, forced them to cancel any swimming.
None of the swimmers are wearing wetsuits, for cultural endurance swimming reasons. If they had waited until the current 50-degree water gets warmer, great white sharks would present a separate set of problems when they migrate north.
The progress of the swimmers can be tracked at http://www.nighttrainswimmers.org.