Open Water
Women's Health Australia|March 2020
What’s it like to swim solo for hours with sharks lurking below? Meet the record-breaking swimmer who knows
Emma Levett

A ripple travels over the black ocean’s surface as a lone swimmer’s arm curves up and out, up and out. Moonlight flickers across the water as Kim Chambers plunges her head under once more, her smooth movements in stark contrast with her racing heart. The dangers of this particular swim are so vast, the 42-year old Kiwi has prepared herself for the chance that she may not survive it. Back home her bills are paid, her laundry done and goodbyes said to her family. But, even with all this weighing on her mind, she’s unstoppable. Her goal? To become the first woman to swim the treacherous 48-kilometre stretch of water between the Farallon Islands and the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco. It’s home to notoriously dangerous currents, as well as scores of the world’s biggest great white sharks – Kim’s training partner Simon had to abort his attempt after being circled by one just a week earlier. For Kim, though, her mind was set. She wanted to prove people wrong and to show that the impossible was possible.

Testing Times

Kim’s extraordinary mindset doesn’t come from a lifetime of ocean swimming or even athleticism. She only took up her sport six years before tackling the challenge in San Francisco. Instead, she credits her resilience to an accident in 2009 that changed her life.

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