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October 11, 2005
MEDIA CONTACT John M. Lazarou
JOHNS HOPKINS’ RESIDENT SWIMS CATALINA CHANNEL TO RAISE MONEY FOR CANCER RESEARCH
Johns Hopkins surgical resident Peter Attia this afternoon completed his swim of the Catalina Channel, a 26-mile stretch from Catalina Island to Point Vicente in Los Angeles, in less than 11 hours. According to his wife, Jill Attia, “Peter looks great and is in good spirits. I am so proud of him.”
After a three hour boat ride to Catalina Island, Attia began his swim back to shore at midnight (PDT) to avoid shipping traffic. Bad weather, rough currents, sharks and barracudas, getting tangled in kelp and health dangers such as hypothermia, nausea and exhaustion were some of the obstacles that Attia faced. The swim should have taken Attia 12 to 15 hours, but according to Jill, “the weather, ocean currents and marine life were all cooperative.”
For his safety, Attia had hired a charter boat to follow him. A neutral observer monitored his attempt, and one of his swim coaches kayaked next to him during his journey. According to marathon swimming rules, Attia was not allowed to make physical contact with anyone during his swim. He was not allowed to wear a wet suit, but he did wear a single latex cap. At the end of his swim, he stood alone, unassisted, upon the shore line of Point Vicente. Since 1927, only 114 other people have completed the swim, considered by many to be the North American “sister swim” of the English Channel.
Attia, 32, who grew up in Toronto, Canada, and is a 2001 graduate of Stanford University School of Medicine, is a relative newcomer to the sport of marathon swimming. He swam the Catalina channel to raise money for the Terry Fox Foundation (terryfoxrun.org), which supports cancer research. Attia hopes to raise $10,000 for the foundation.
In 1980, despite having his leg amputated above the knee, 22-year-old cancer patient Terry Fox walked 26 miles a day for 143 consecutive days to raise cancer awareness. Fox never completed his cross-Canada trek because cancer spread to his lungs. He died a few months later. Fox’s endeavor was named the “Marathon of Hope.”
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