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Daring Grandma Takes Historic, 29-Mile Swim Without Wetsuit



Inspiring Moments:

  • A daring grandma completes a 29-mile swim from the Golden Gate Bridge to the Farallon Islands, making history.
  • Amy Appelhans Gubser, the brave swimmer, tackles cold waters, sharks, and jellyfish without wearing a wetsuit.
  • Gubser’s staggering swim offers a motivating example of maintaining athletic ability irrespective of age and body weight.

Defying age and physical barriers, a grandmother has taken a bold step in the waters where none had dared to venture before – a swim from San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge to the Farallon Islands. An astounding distance close to 30 miles!

Surprisingly, Amy Appelhans Gubser, the fearless grandma, had refrained from swimming for nearly 25 years before she embarked on this difficult journey. She decided to face the icy water, potential sharks, and stinging jellyfish, all without the protection of a wetsuit.

Beginning around a challenging 3:27 a.m, Gubser threw herself into the water alongside her support vessel. “I really had to be very thoughtful and careful about how I approached this swim because of the sharks,” she admitted. The swim lasted for 17 laborious hours, stretching into the night when she finally reached the Farallon Islands.

Her exceptional achievement, under the attentive eyes of an agent from the Marathon Swimmers Federation (MSF), is pending formal confirmation. However, there’s no doubt that she is the first woman to ever achieve this feat, and the first person of both genders to do so beginning from the renowned bridge to the islands.

Earlier, several male swimmers had successfully performed the journey starting from the islands. However, Gubser’s attempt marks a significant breakthrough as all three previous tries in the opposite direction, supervised by the MSF, were unsuccessful.

Living in Pacifica, California, Gubser detailed her daunting experience of swimming through fog and red tide. She described the experience as being in a “sensory deprivation bubble”, where visibility was limited to just a few feet above water, and an inch below it. Despite these intimidating conditions, Gubser entered into a zen state, interrupted only by snack breaks every half an hour.


“And April, May, June is when a very big migration of great white sharks takes place away from the Farallon Islands. That’s why the swim has to take place during that timeframe,” she explained further. Gubser chose not to wear a wetsuit in accordance with MSF rules, irrespective of the warmth and additional buoyancy it could have provided.

“When you wear a wetsuit your skin rubs against the material, and the last thing that I really wanted was for my skin to bleed near a shark island,” she noted.

At the beginning of the swim, water temperatures were in the high 40s Fahrenheit but gradually rose by about 10 degrees as the journey progressed. Gubser kept a steady stroke rate of around 61 per minute, and ate chicken broth, canned peaches, hot chocolate, and some potatoes to maintain her energy levels. Regrettably, she did have encounters with jellyfish that left her stung.

Regardless, Gubser hopes her accomplishment inspires all those who hear about it. She is a remarkable example that athletic ability can be maintained and celebrated, not hampered by age or body weight. Gubser’s story is indeed a joyful testament to the human spirit’s resilience and determination.


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