On August 18, 2015, Abhejali Bernadova (age 39) from Zlin, Czech Republic, became the first member of our international Sri Chinmoy Marathon Team and first Czech swimmer overall to achieve the “Triple Crown of Open Water Swimming”. Starting around midnight and swimming through the night from Catalina Island to California mainland, she conquered the Catalina Channel faster than expected in 9 hours 46 min. - after swimming the English Channel solo in 2011 and successfully swimming around Manhattan Island (MIMS) in 2012 (always without a wetsuit). Having crossed the Strait of Gibraltar in 2013, she now also has three of the “Oceans Seven” swims in her pocket. (⇒ Oceans Seven Openwaterpedia)
She said it was a very nice and peaceful swim for her, easier than expected, with calm and unusually warm waters (EL Niño!), lots of bioluminescence and even dolphins accompanying her for some time. She was supported by a great team inlcuding her good friend Harita Davies from New Zealand and Jennifer Cluck from San Diego, as well as the experienced crew on Outrider, the pilot boat.
Catalina Channel Swimming Federation observer Monica Bender reported: “Abhejali and her team were wonderful to team up with across the channel. We had smooth waters for most of the journey except a little chop in the middle. The water was mostly 70/71°F (21°C) the entire way. Huge pods of dolphins were spotted near the finish, and they swam around her for a small portion of the swim. The phosphorescence was beautiful." (see more photos here)
Abhejali – like most of our team members – has been a vegetarian since she started practicing meditation over 20 years ago. Her daily meditation practice, she feels, not only helps her in training by increasing focus and improving regeneration, but also it helps to keep the mind calm and positive during the swim, allowing her to experience the peace and beauty of open water swimming on an even deeper level.
Abhejali is not only an accomplished swimmer, but also a great runner with multiday experience (10 day race New York). She also loves to carry the Peace Run torch across many parts of this world.