Catalina Channel Rabbit's Foot
noun - Catalina Channel Rabbit's Foot is a good luck charm with a remarkable record of success for swimmers who possess it. Swimmers have received it and passed it along to the next swimmer in an unbroken chain of success from 1981. Pat Hines created the tradition when she gave it to Richard Marks.
Swimmers With the Catalina Channel Rabbit's Foot
There is an unbroken and unblemished record of success for the following swimmers who have received and passed on the good luck charm:
1. Pat Hines, 30 August 1981, 11 hours 17 minutes (42nd swimmer)
2. Richard Marks, 30 August 1981, 11 hours 28 minutes (43rd swimmer)
3. Mike Suttle, 24 August 1986, 11 hours 13 minutes
4. Scott Zornig, 27 September 1999, 10 hours 8 minutes (93rd swimmer)
5. Jim Fitzpatrick, 3 October 2001, 9 hours 47 minutes (101st swimmer)
6. Jim Fitzpatrick, Brendan Halffman, Mike Suttle, Craig Taylor, Dave Yudovin, and Scott Zornig, 20 July 2002, 6-person relay from San Clemente Island to California mainland in 33 hours 8 minutes (1st relay)
7. Forrest Nelson, 5 October 2004, 10 hours 35 minutes (111th swimmer)
8. Michele Santilhano, 17 September 2007, 13 hours 8 minutes (142nd swimmer)
9. Dave Galli, 22 August 2008, 10 hours 35 minutes (153rd swimmer)
10. Christopher Roberts, 19 September 2008, 13 hours 50 minutes (160th swimmer)
11. Jim Fitzpatrick, 31 September to 1 October 2008, 29 miles to Newport Beach in 14 hours 59 minutes
12. Jen Schumacher, 14 August 2009, 9 hours 2 minutes (168th swimmer)
13. Forrest Nelson, 5-7 July 2011, 48 miles or 77.2 km in 25 hours 35 minutes around Catalina Island
14. Tina Neill, 4-6 September 2012, 53.95 miles or 86.6 km in 28 hours 41 minutes from San Clemente Island
15. Grace van der Byl, October 2012, 7 hours 27 minutes
History of Catalina Channel's Rabbit Foot
Update by Tina Neill:
Pat Hines originally presented this good luck charm to Richard Marks, who carried it on the escort boat for his August 30th 1981 attempt of the 20 mile Catalina Channel. Richard became the 43rd person to swim solo across the Catalina Channel, in 11 hours 28 minutes.
Pat Hines trained with Richard and also successfully completed a solo swim that same day in 11:17. Pat is recorded as the 42nd solo Catalina Channel Swimming Federation swimmer.
A few years later, Richard Marks was a support member on Mike Suttle’s swim. Richard passed the lucky Catalina Channel Rabbit’s Foot to Mike, who on August 24th 1986 became the 61st person to successfully complete the swim (in 11:13).
On October 3rd, 2001, Scott passed the lucky Catalina Channel Rabbit’s Foot along to Jim Fitzpatrick. Just like the others before him, Jim successfully crossed the Channel, and in the process, became the 101st swimmer to accomplish this feat in 9:47.
July 20th 2002, the Rabbit’s Foot accompanied Jim Fitzpatrick, Brendan Halffman, Mike Suttle, Craig Taylor, Dave Yudovin, and Scott Zornig as they became the first to swim as a 6 person relay from San Clemente Islandto San Clemente, California – a distance of almost 60 miles in 33:08.
The legacy was handed to Michele Santilhano who swam Catalina on 17th September 2007 in 13:08. Michele is the 142nd swimmer to cross.
Later that same summer, from September 31st to October 1st, the Rabbit’s Foot accompanied Jim Fitzpatrick on his unprecedented successful solo swim from Catalina to Newport Beach (29 miles or 46.6 km in 14:59).
On August 14th, 2009, Jim passed the Rabbit’s foot to Jen Schumacher, who became the 168th person to cross the Catalina Channel in a time of 9:02, the fastest crossing of the Rabbit’s Foot yet.
Then in 2011, Jen gave the Rabbit’s Foot to Forrest Nelson, who circumnavigated Catalina Island between the days of July 5th and 7th. It was the longest solo journey the Rabbit’s foot has taken (48 miles or 77.2 km) in a final time of 25:35.
In September 2011, Forrest passed the Rabbit’s Foot to Tina Neill, who was attempting to swim from Laguna Beach, California to San Clemente Island. The currents held Tina back for nearly a year. From September 4th to 6th 2012, she swam from San Clemente Island to the Mainland. 53.95 miles (86.6 km) in 28:41.
Now, 31 years later, the lucky Catalina Rabbit’s foot continues to bless open water swimmers. So far, it has successfully traveled over 369 miles (594 km) while accompanying 10 solo crossings of the Catalina Channel. Every marathon swimmer in possession of the Rabbit’s Foot has completed their goal including Grace van der Byl who set the Catalina Island to mainland record in 7 hours 27 minutes.