News

Del Mar students earn fifth world record with 15-mile Santa Barbara oil rig swim

The “Zombie Patrol” swim team from Sea Change Preparatory, a private micro-school in Del Mar, recently earned its fifth world record in open-ocean swimming, according to a news release. The 15-mile relay swim to the Santa Barbara oil rig was completed in 14 hours by a team comprised of eight students and school staff, each swimming in 30-minute intervals. The youngest swimmer was 14 years old.

This was the fifth world-record-setting swim for the small-and-mighty swim team. It follows closely on the heels of another world record the team set in June, which involved a first-ever swim between the islands of Ischia and Di Santo Stefano, off the coast of Naples, Italy.

While celebrating their latest achievement, the school also received exciting news – that they have secured a coveted slot to swim the English Channel in July 2019. This will be the second time that the Zombies team will complete this grueling, 21-mile course, although a new group of students will be competing in the swim in 2019.

The Zombies first competed in the English Channel swim in 2015, earning the students local and national media attention, including the NBC Nightly News with Lester Holt. Sea Change was able to earn the slot for the English Channel through International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame swimmer Chloe McCardel, who held a competition for high schools in 2015. The Zombies won, beating out some of the top open-ocean swim teams in the world, most notably Geelong Preparatory in Australia.

The Santa Barbara swim included a number of notable accomplishments and breakthrough moments for the team, including:

 First solo swim for Otto (14-year-old, non-verbal student with autism who has thrived under the Sea Change Prep program)

 16-year-old Cole volunteered to start the race, jumping off the boat into pitch black ocean waters at 3:30 a.m.

 Swim coach Dan Simonelli spent 13 hours in a kayak accompanying the swimmers

 First swim for coach Craig Kindel, Sea Change’s director of marketing and admissions and graphic arts instructor

 Amazing wildlife sightings, including orcas, humpback whales and pods of wild dolphins

Training for the English Channel swim is underway now and will continue throughout the school year, with students and staff hitting the water three days a week without wetsuits or fins, in keeping with international competitive swimming guidelines.

“We are so proud of what our kids are able to accomplish, but more importantly, the kids are proud of themselves,” said John Allcock, who co-founded the school along with his wife Cheryl. “Using the mindfulness skills that we practice every day as part of the Sea Change curriculum, our students are able to push past their perceived limitations, overcome fear and self-doubt, and enjoy the rewards of realizing their hard-earned goals. Each swim we complete is really a testament to the fact that these kids can do anything they set their minds to.”

To learn more or schedule a school tour, visit www.seachangeprep.com or call (858) 461-0953.

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