Solo Swimmer To Trek Across Shark Infested Red Triangle

Coral Triangle, Bermuda Triangle, Dragon's Triangle.... Never knew there was a Red Triangle. Anybody know of anymore Triangles out in the ocean?

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The Pacific Ocean's Red Triangle seems to be having its renaissance -- at least in the minds of long-distance swimmers, who are suddenly swimming across the cold, shark-filled waters in force.

In late-May, a mixed-gender relay team became the first to successfully swim a 30-mile distance through the Triangle, from the California coast near the Golden Gate Bridge to the Farallon Islands. The swim took them 14 hours, 45 minutes and eight seconds.

Two weeks later, the first all-female relay followed suit in rougher conditions, with a time of 16 hours, 30 minutes and 30 seconds. On Tuesday, 41-year-old swimmer Joe Locke will attempt to solo the same stretch.

Locke, a technology and equity analyst from Mill Valley, Calif., will plunge into 53-degree water at 1:30 a.m. His expects to finish in 13 to 16 hours, which means he'll be likely toweling off some time between 2:30 p.m. and 5:30 p.m.

Locke crossed the English Channel last year, but plenty of people have done that. If he succeeds on this challenge, he'll become the second person ever to solo-swim the Red Triangle route. The last time someone pulled and kicked across the whole thing was in 1967, when swimmer Ted Erikson finished with a time of 14 hours and 38 minutes.

The Red Triangle covers a roughly triangular area from the Golden Gate Bridge across to the Farallon Islands and down to Big Sur, south of Monterey. Lots of otters, sea lions and seals live in the area, which makes it an appealing destination for great white sharks -- and a dangerous destination for open-water swimmers.

Of the 249 unprovoked great-white attacks that happened between 1876 and 2010, 93 of them -- or 37 percent were in the Red Triangle, according to the University of Florida's International Shark Attack File.

In that time, great whites have killed 65 people -- eight of them (or 12 percent) in the Red Triangle. The last time a shark killed someone in the region was in 2008.

If you're not already someone who eagerly jumps into 50-degree, shark-infested waters, it may be a hard hobby to understand. But for swimmers who are pushing the limits of their sport, the Farallon Islands swim is an amazing accomplishment.

"There's something eerie about the Farallon Islands and the fact that great whites breed there just adds to it," said Kimberley Chambers, a 33-year old member of the recent all-female relay that completed the swim. "I swam the last leg in the dark. I have never been so equally excited and terrified at the same time. I look back at the video and I can't believe that was me."

Chambers, who works as a designer at Adobe, trains in the Bay for about an hour, six days a week. She is already addicted to swimming in cold water. But the Farallon swim was something special for her and her teammates.

"We had dolphins that swam next to one woman," she said. "We had a whale that breached next to another swimmer. It's just magical to see the wildlife."

"It was the most incredible experience for all of us," she added. "It's amazing what you can do when you put your mind to it."

Chambers and Locke are both affiliated with the Night Train Swimmers, an organization that raises money for charities through long-distance swims. Locke's swim is raising funds for the Wounded Warrior Project, the Semper Fi Fund and the Navy Seal Foundation. All help support and empower wounded veterans.

Updates on Locke's swim will be available at You can also get updates via twitter.


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