Dave Barra

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Dave Barra, Open Water Swimming Hero
S.C.A.R. Swim Challenge competitors in the inaugural race in Arizona including Dave Barra, Janet Harris and Kent Nicholas
David Barra is the epitome of a passionate open water swimmer who specializes in marathon swimming. He is also an open water swimming race director and a guide and coach with SwimVacation.

In 2010, he had one of the most remarkably prolific years of marathon swimming in the 21st century. He started off the year with a 9.6-mile Maui Channel between the islands of Lanai and Maui in March in Hawaii. Then he completed the the 24-mile (38.6K) Tampa Bay Marathon Swim in Florida in April in 10 hours 49 minutes. And then he went on to complete the 28.5-mile (45.8K) Manhattan Island Marathon Swim in June in New York in 8 hours 30 minutes.

On his second leg of his Triple Crown of Open Water Swimming, he crossed the 21-mile (33.7 km) Catalina Channel in July with a 15 hour 37 minute swim in tough conditions. Then he did the 8-mile (12.8 km) Boston Light Swim in Massachusetts in August in 3 hours. He crossed the English Channel in September with a 14 hour 27 minute swim and completed the Ederle Swim in October in 5 hours 37 minutes. He capped off the 2010 season with a 5 km swim in Coney Island November in New York. His explanation of his exploits are below.

In 2011, he also conceived and completed the 8 Bridges Hudson River Swim, a 120-mile (193 km), 7-day, 7-stage swim in the Hudson River in New York, U.S.A. In 2012, he competed in S.C.A.R. Swim Challenge in Arizona, the 20-mile Provincetown to Plymouth swim (P2P Swim) in Massachusetts in August 2012, the 25-mile In Search of Memphre, a cross-border swim from Newport, Vermont (USA) to Magog, Quebec (Canada), and organized the 2nd 8 Bridges Hudson River Swim. He also participated in the 15.1-mile Cape Circumnavigation Challenge marathon swim around Cape May, New Jersey and won the inaugural 2.6-mile Cold Water Challenge in Fairfield, Connecticut.

On 28 March 2013, Barra completed a 22-mile marathon swim in Eleuthera, Bahamas from Lighthouse Beach to Sunrise Beach in 13 hours 41 minutes escorted by Clare Kelly-Barra, Scott Aland, Rachel Shapiro, and Jai Leal as escort kayakers.


Barra Award

Barra is the namesake for the Barra Award. The Barra Award is an award given by the Marathon Swimmers Forum for most impressive overall year of marathon swimming. The Barra Award considers not just swimming achievements, but also the person's full body of work in the sport of marathon swimming.


The Year 2010

45-year-old Barra trained hard during the cold winter months in New York's Mid Hudson Valley to prepare for his remarkable year. Besides the hours in the pool, he was also acclimated to sub-10°C (50°F) water by swimming in lakes throughout the winter. He completed the following swims throughout the year:

Not since the heyday of International Marathon Swimming Hall of Famers Michael Read and Kevin Murphy has the marathon swimming world been graced by a working man and amateur swimmer so prolific and successful as Dave Barra (129.6 miles or 208K total in one season).

Humble, passionate and committed, Dave represents the good and the positive of the sport.

8 Bridges Hudson River Swim

Barra created an expedition swim called the 8 Bridges | Hudson River Swim. As Dave explains, "This swim [follow via Twitter] has been on my mind for a long time. Last year, I started training in the Hudson River with Rondi Davies and she encouraged me to finally put it together. She has also done an incredible amount of the leg work required for such an event. Originally, it was going to be just Rondi and me swimming, but after a few conversations with the Coast Guard, we decided that we could handle a few other swimmers for the up-river stages. We have a maximum of 7 swimmers total for each of the first 5 stages. This number was determined by the capacity of the boat that we will have transporting us to our splash site each day. CIBBOWS has also provided us with much needed support."

SwimVacation Coaches

Barra is a swim coach and guide with SwimVacation, an open water swimming tour operator in the British Virgin Islands and the state of Maine in the United States.

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