Woman becomes first Turk to swim across Catalina Channel

Woman becomes first Turk to swim across Catalina Channel

Woman becomes first Turk to swim across Catalina Channel

Bengisu Avcı has become the first Turkish woman to swim through the Catalina Channel, one of the seven ocean tracks in the world, making the country proud.

“When I went there, I knew that I would fight to the end to achieve it, become Turkish women are like that. We do whatever we put our mind to sooner or later,” said Avcı, who also became the fastest Turkish female to cross the English Channel three years ago.

From Santa Catalina Island off Los Angeles to San Pedro Long Beach, the 26-year-old covered a distance of 34 kilometers (21.1 miles) with whales and sharks in 11 hours and 59 minutes, swimming seven hours in the pitch black.

“Sharks don’t wait for you as in horror movies. If they get too close, the referee may cancel the attempt,” she said.

Noting that the water temperature varies between 10-18 degrees Celsius (50-64 degrees Fahrenheit) and some very cold streams pass through it, Avcı said no shark attacks have been reported so far in Catalina crossings.

“I have been preparing for this for three years,” Avcı said. “I jumped into the water with confidence, believing that I would reach the opposite shore as I trained for the worst.”

“When it was nine hours, I was unable to progress though I was going at the right pace.”

Stating that the fog after the sun came up challenged her the most during the swim, Avcı said, “I calmed myself saying, ‘Don’t look back. Do what you know best, just keep swimming.’ When I looked up, I was out of the fog and three kilometers [1.8 miles] away.”

She also pointed out that her next goal may be another track in the U.S.

While preparing for this attempt, Avcı also collected donations for girls who do not have access to education within the body of the Koruncuk Foundation.

The Catalina Channel in the U.S. is one of Ocean’s Seven, a marathon swimming challenge comprising seven channel swims.

The track is the second jewel in the “triple crown of open water swimming,” along with the English Channel and Manhattan Island.

In 1927, a 17-year-old Canadian swimmer, George Young, became the first person to complete a crossing from Catalina Island to the mainland of California in a time of 15:44.30.