“It was intended to show everyone that you could swim in Alaska,” Rose said. “Somehow everyone was convinced they couldn’t swim up there, that you’d die when you jumped in the water.”
Rose completed the swim in 4 hours, 36 minutes. She is the first recorded person to complete the 8-mile swim.
“The people living there didn’t believe that you could swim there and I’m not sure why,” Rose said. “People from Sitka travel other places to swim. It didn’t occur to them that they could swim in their own water because they were told it was too cold.”
Although the swim across Sitka Sound was considerably shorter than previous distance swims she had completed – including swimming the Catalina Channel and Santa Barbara Channel – Rose said it was challenging because the sound was an unknown. Entering the water, Rose didn’t know if it would be possible to complete the swim.
“It was different because I was discovering it as I went along,” Rose said. “The swim was a little more of an adventure swim.”
During the 4 1/2-hour swim, local guides joined Rose in the water. But these guides weren’t people – they were sea otters.
“When I was trying to pick a route, the sea otters started chirping and popping. When I got in the water to swim, the sea otters kept diving under me,” Rose said. “The babies can’t dive, so they would be floating along looking at me and making sounds.”
Rose, who has lived in PB for the last 16 years, swims with the La Jolla Cove Swim Club, had been planning on swimming in Alaska for the past year and decided to take on the challenge of Sitka Sound last May. She trained for the swim both in La Jolla Cove and Coronado.
Within the next month, Rose has two swims planned – one from Silver Strand beach in Coronado to the U.S.-Mexico border and the other from north of Oceanside to the San Diego County line. She has plans to return to Alaska to swim next year.