In July 2019, Terence Bell - Australian waterman - is looking to stage a world-first Solo Swim around the Hawaiian island of Kaua’i, supported by local crew on a sailing boat to raise US$50k for Sustainable Coastlines HI. He tells Explorers Connect all about the challenge he has set himself, and why…
What’s the plan? In July 2019 I am going to swim around the pristine Hawaiian island of Kaua’i, it’s about 160 km (100 miles) and will take around 14 days. Kaua’i is absolute paradise and it’s like stepping back in time when Dinosaurs roamed the lush tropical lands - they even filmed Jurassic Park on the island. It will be a staged circumnavigation swim of the island which means the same exit and start point, always tracked by GPS (Spot3 and Garmin Fenix 5 watch) and logged on Strava. I plan to swim up to 5 hours per day, covering 10-14 km (6-9 miles), and will be supported by my team who are an experienced local crew on a fully equipped sailing boat.
Why are you doing it? The swim will be a world-first and my goal is to raise awareness about our responsibilities as humans to the ocean and how our daily actions can influence the planet. I have chosen to partner with a grassroots local non-profit called Sustainable Coastlines Hawaii (SCH) because they are making a real impact and not just talking about it. They have a small full-time team but have a considerable amount of volunteer support who get together regularly to conduct hands-on beach cleanups. SCH also provide educational programs in local communities and provide waste diversion services for large scale events like professional surfing contests. They even have the support of Jason Momoa, aka “Aquaman”, who raised money for them recently (early May 2019) on the Ellen Degeneres show.
I live a an intentional and healthy life and want to spread a simple message to the world, "Play more, Use less”.
Play more: Take the time to let the world inspire awe in you. Look beyond the piles of plastic on a beach to the beauty of the waves and mountains. Think about how the land and ocean takes care of all of us.
Use less: Start taking account of your own daily life. Look at the products you buy, think about how they were made, and what waste was created in their beginnings and end. Know that your choices matter and your voice is powerful in demanding something different.
How are you preparing? I have a 20 year background in endurance events at a high-level in ultra-marathons and triathlon, and have always had a passion for ocean activities like swimming, surfing, paddling and freediving. My preparation for the swim is pretty simple - I am spending as much time in the ocean as possible no matter the conditions, as well as doing regular yoga practice, surfing and some running. In 2019 I have logged (using my Garmin) a total of 430 km (267 miles), approx. 187,000 strokes and 125 hours of wild ocean swimming in some pretty cool locations - Australia (Bondi Beach, Byron Bay), Hawaii (Big Island, Oahu), Los Angeles (Venice, Malibu) and Brazil (Rio de Janeiro). I prefer life in Speedos and clearly chase the warm water, and have been based in Rio de Janeiro since February, swimming at the famous Ipanema and Copacabana beaches daily.
What are the logistics? The team will launch from Nawiliwili Harbor in Kaua’i on 1st July and I’ll start swimming south-west around the island towards the South shore of Poipu. From there we will follow the coastline around and let Mother Nature guide and dictate our adventure. We’ll stay on the boat the entire trip and take shelter in protected bays or harbors during the dark hours. Improvisation and adaptation will be key.
Who else is on your team?
Captain: Mark - an old salty Kaua’i local, sailed around the Pacific for 40 years, knows Kaua’i as good as anyone.
Support crew: Kaspar - a great friend, Swiss-born and South-African based, who is an experienced waterman. Zodiac driver - experienced Boat captain from Kaua’i. Friends and family from Hawaii and all over the globe.
What wildlife are you expecting to encounter? It’s the wild Pacific ocean so who knows what we’ll encounter, we could come across a Megalodon shark which can be as large as two school buses. It’s basically a stockier version of the great white shark :)
I’ll probably swim with plenty of wild Dolphins (Spinner, Bottlenose, Spotted), Green Sea Turtles, Manta Rays, lots of fish and take a nasty sting from jellyfish. It’s not whale season in July but Hawaii is known for attracting all types of large cetaceans like the majestic Humpbacks and Pilot whales.
We’ll be in the territory of some of our sharp-toothed friends, potentially Hammerhead, Reef, Tiger Sharks which will keep it interesting. If you have a fear of sharks this is not the place to swim in the wild, but I have a healthy respect for them and feel they’re not all out to get us.
What conditions are you expecting to encounter? Tradewinds: NE direction, ~5-20 MPH Swell size: varied, flat to big storms Sea temp avg: 26°C (79°F); Air temp avg: Low 23°C (74°F) / High 31°C (88°F) Daylight: Total 13:15 hrs – 6am to 7:15pm
How can people support and follow you? My swim website is: http://soloswimhawaii.com - where people can donate and 100% of funds raised will go to Sustainable Coastlines Hawaii. ‘ll post regular updates on my Instagram channel, and daily swim logs on my Strava profile.
What do you want to achieve with the swim? Ideally come back alive, come back as friends, and come back successful...and in that order. Successful to me means completing the circumnavigation of the island and having some unique experiences with my team along the way, raising US$50k for Sustainable Coastlines Hawaii and ultimately inspiring others to ‘Play more, Use less’.
How does the ocean inspire you? The ocean has taught me to be humble, mindful and have a simple awareness that everything in life is interconnected. I have swam in many beautiful oceans around the world, sometimes it is calm and glassy, and other times the raging waters ricochet me around. It is always the wild choppy seas where I learn the most about myself, to experience the flow and just let it be.
The Chilean poet Pablo Neruda summed it up well - “I need the sea because it teaches me”.
Any ocean swimming tips? Firstly, you need to have a strong respect for the ocean as it is powerful and can change at any moment. It’s an unnatural environment for humans to be in for long periods of time and the fear of the unknown is what freaks most people out. The more you can calm the mind the easier it is to respond to the ‘ocean ways’ as it will do what it wants to do. In terms of swimming style, you have to feel the flow of the ocean and not push back against this, it’s about being more gentle out there and gliding through the water without splashing around too much.
Basic tips for Beginners: Arms: Keep elbows high and gently reach into water with a nice glide, then bend at elbow and pull through strongly underneath the body; Torso: Activate the core to keep the body stable, not twisting too much, keep hips and butt close to surface; Legs: Strong kick every few strokes, relax in between and let the legs gently follow behind.
What’s your day job? I started my career as an Investment Banker with global banks in Sydney and London, shifted gears to join a technology start-up and since then have became an entrepreneur and founder myself, fortunate to live the digital nomad lifestyle. Most recently I was working with an Augmented Reality company based in LA who have some very innovative technology they are developing in the Tourism and Events sector.
I turned 40 earlier this year and felt compelled to pursue my calling of being closer to nature, and I am currently working on a few projects related to this - writing a kid’s book about animals, working on a kids ‘Nature Day Camp’ concept and also advising a few companies who are using technology to enhance our connection with nature.
I am always looking to collaborate with like-minded conscious and creative people, so feel free to get in touch.
Sustainable Coastlines Hawaii: http://sustainablecoastlineshawaii.org/
Pics of Kaua’i: https://www.instagram.com/explore/tags/kauai/
Kaua’i tourism: https://www.gohawaii.com/islands/kauai