Neil van der Byl

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Neil van der Byl is an American open water swimmer and active Observer for the Santa Barbara Channel Swimming Association (SBCSA) and Catalina Channel Swimming Federation. In cooperation with his wife Grace van der Byl, he created a database for the support crew of Catalina Channel swimmers. Neil is an active support coordinator for open water swims and trains new paddlers in safety and feeding techniques (including night swimming) - many of these techniques were adopted from the teachings of a channel swimming support mentor David Clark who pioneered kayaking for Catalina Channel crossings and offers annual support clinics.
Neil van der Byl

When supporting several accomplished open water swimmers in different types of races, channel crossings, and long distance training swims (his favorite being wife Grace van der Byl), Neil uses various Hobie (pedaling) kayaks and navigation / feeding equipment suited for both day-time and night-time swims ... some of which are sometimes in pretty rough conditions. Neil is one of the few support paddlers that can complete Catalina Channel crossings non-stop (some of which last up to 14+ hours).

In May 2014, he paddled for Kristin Jones of Alaska who won 2 of the 4 legs of the 4-day S.C.A.R. Swim Challenge stage swim in Arizona. In June '14 he returned to NY with Grace van der Byl to compete in the 2014 MIMS swim, which they won.


SoCal Open-water Swim Support

He manages the SoCal Open-water Swim Support service together with Grace van der Byl.

Rescue Ring.jpg

Kayak Support Coaching & Techniques
Support Kayakers for SCAR Swim 2014


Hobie Kayaks

Observer & Support Resume

Grace van der Byl
Neil & Gracie leading MIMS 2014
Training in our back yard - La Jolla, CA

Anne Cleveland (Hall of Fame)

Evan Morrison (Santa Barbara Channel Swimming record holder)

Tobey-Anne Saracino (Triple Crown)

Katy Dooley Team Tripod
Tethered feedings from a Hobie kayak

Tina Neill 1st to complete 54 mile San Clemente Island to Mainland swim (nominated for World Open Water Swimming Woman of the Year)

Cliff Crozier

Michael Renford (Triple Crown)

Long Beach Swim Focus Catalina Relay (1st Catalina crossing under 7 hours)

Patti Bauernfeind

Global Swimarathon

Goody Tyler IV

Liz Schlicher

Blair Cannon

Walter Bean Scott

Samuel Neri

Paul Downie

Devon Clifford

Alli DeFrancesco

Steve Faulkner

Cindy Walsh

Jim Fitzpatrick

Dave Smith

Melodee Nugent

("Are we there yet?" Successful Catalina Channel Relay - including kids as young as 14)

OakStreakers - 18-person tandem relay across Catalina Channel

... and a few others.

External links

Gracie's Catalina World Record Swim


Personal tools
Annual Recognition
Insurance and Sanctions
OWS Conferences
Race Calendar
Travel & Vacations
Education Programs
About OWP
Courtesy of