San Francisco resident Kim Chambers recently became the first woman to swim the 30 miles from the Farallon Islands to the Golden Gate Bridge. The historic swim began with an 11:30 PM plunge into the shark-infested Farallon waters and ended 17 hours later on August 8. The effort inspired a documentary film, “Kim Swims” which thanks to a Kickstarter campaign will be released next spring. atombash.com caught up with Kim on November 8.
Mark Davis: Are you recovered from making history?
KC: Yes [laughs], it’s been a bit of a whirlwind.
MD: When I saw the film trailer for the Kickstarter campaign, I said, I’ve got to talk to this person.
KC: I just hope it’s a story that resonates with everybody to do something that scares you and to push yourself in ways that you didn’t think you could.
MD: What scared you about it?
KC: Everything. That was the draw for me. Each of these swims are not just athletic events, they are very personal journeys where you put your life on the line. You’re just this one human in an environment for which you are ill equipped and anything can happen. You’re in water that’s 6,000 feet deep. You’re just this little thing on the surface of the water. It’s really a leap of faith in every sense of the word. The Farallon Islands are a pretty foreboding place. I think they are beautiful with all of their mystery and terror; it’s where great white sharks migrate to breed. Most people don’t think about that place as an ideal spot for swimming. I disagree; it’s a really magical place. I wanted to do this swim for many reasons not the least of which because it scared me. I didn’t know what was going to happen. People ask me if I have a death wish and that’s absolutely not the case. I have a great life and I just love being out there in the unknown. Ten days before I got into the water my training buddy Simon Dominguez who is an Aussie, I’m a Kiwi, he was circled by a great white shark three miles from finishing. So that was on my mind. There’s a very short period of time when you can safely swim in those waters. There are resident sharks there but they don’t typically come back in large numbers until August/September. I jumped into that water on weekends just for fun and I’ve never seen a shark out there. I think in many ways you can feel their presence. It’s always the seals and sea lions that will frolic around me, they’re so close that I can see their eyelashes. It’s a magical place but also very scary. There was a fear of not coming back and there was also a fear of not achieving my goal. I had kept it a secret for quite some time although I don’t think it was the best-kept secret. Everyone knows that I’m obsessed with those islands. When you announce that you’re going to be doing one of these swims there’s an expectation that you’re going to finish and would it be a failure if I didn’t. It scared me in many ways.
Next up: Kim describes the Oceans Seven and her brush with mortality. Stay tuned…