Pam, a WYSK reader from Indiana, recently contacted Women You Should Know® to let us know about Linda Kaiser.
“Linda is an amazing woman! She is the only woman who has swum all 9 major channels in Hawaii. Yes, this lady swims from island to island! She has encountered Portuguese man o’wars, sharks, jellyfish, and other obstacles, yet she continues her passion. She is an ardent supporter of the ocean environment. She has mentored other swimmers and continues to give to the community. Linda is a true inspiration!”
We since connected with Linda and are so pleased to share her personal story as told in her own words:
My name is Linda Kaiser. I am 61 years of age. Born and raised in Hawaii, I am the only woman to have swum all 9 channels between the Hawaiian Islands. I am also 1 of only 2 people to have accomplished this. I was inducted into the Hawaii Swimming Hall Of Fame in 2008. My first channel was done in 1989 and the last was done in 2010. Life sort of got in the way. And time passed.
“The ocean is my passion, my sanctuary, my church. It is where I feel the most peace.”
The rules of Hawaii channel swimmers are pretty simple. Start on land, finish on land. Don’t touch anything in between. The channel distances vary from 7 miles to 32 and the longest is 72 miles. The longer channels are done mostly at night. The winds are calmer then. But it is very, very dark. Lock yourself in a closet with a bag over your head to get an idea of what I experience. You do not see anything but the phosphorescence lit up by the swimmers movement. I get to be alone with my thoughts during my swims. But my thoughts need to be of something other than what I am doing. I write long letters to friends, do long math problems in my head. I think of anything but what I’m doing. No cell phone, no internet. Just me in the here and now.
We have an escort boat that throws us the feeding every 45 minutes to an hour, or whenever we ask for it. I take about a 1/3 of a bottle of liquid mixture every time. The water bottle is tied with a cord so when I am done I just drop it and the boat reels it in.
What about sharks? Yes, they are always there. Might not see them, but I can feel them… and yes, I have seen them. I’ve been approached by them and looked over. They are beautiful creatures. And man is killing them just to have their fin in a soup. It is a cruel slow death. It is a practice that needs to stop. There is no reason for it.
The creature I fear more than anything in the ocean is the jellyfish. The stings are scalding and leave big welts. I had a violent reaction to swallowing one and had to be pulled from my attempt. I returned a week later and did complete that channel. Global warming is producing many more jellyfish than ever before. I am pretty sure whenever I do a channel I will be stung.
The causes dear to my heart are discouraging ocean pollution and stopping shark finning. Shark fin soup is now banned in Hawaii. I also believe every child in Hawaii should know how to swim. We are surrounded by water. Swimming, surfing, diving, fishing. Get out and enjoy what is free.
I extend a welcome to all channel swimmers who come to Hawaii. Just last month, 5 swimmers attempted to cross the Kaiwi Channel… 26 miles from Molokai to Oahu. 3 made it. I met 2 where they finished. One was a woman from Sweden who swam for almost 19 hours. She came ashore close to midnight and I was there. An average swim time for that channel is 14 hours.
Swimming has allowed me to meet so many incredible people. I also paddle 1-man, 2-man, and 6-man canoes. My paddle partner and I were the first women to paddle a 2-man across the Kaiwi Channel (from Molokai to Oahu.) I am also a triathlete.
I have served on the Board of the Waikiki Roughwater Swim for over 20 years. I’ve served on the Board of the Duke Kahanamoku Foundation, and have been President of the Hawaii Kai Funrunners Club.
I have taught swimming to adults for a number of years and I coach triathletes in swimming.
In order to do what I do for fun I have a job. I started my own business in 1984. I was the first woman owned pool cleaning business in Oahu. I am still in business and clean 40 pools a week. I keep thinking I might be able to retire some day.