Swimmers prepare for 20 mile journey - 13 WTHR Indianapolis

Swimmers prepare for 20 mile journey

Jim Barber Jim Barber
Jim Barber and Victoria Rian swimming in Morse Reservoir Jim Barber and Victoria Rian swimming in Morse Reservoir

Mary Milz/Eyewitness News

Victoria Rian and Jim Barber go to Morse Reservoir to log miles as they train for their latest long-distance swim.

"It's something I've been working on for 20-plus years," Barber said.

August 5th, they'll swim from Catalina Island to Los Angeles, side-by-side.  That's 20 miles or roughly nine hours in the open sea at night.

But why?

"Because it scares me to death," Rian said. "I think it will help trying to get over my fears and maybe help me with the rest of my life."

Barber, a 50-year-old father of four is motivated by something else.  He's done the English Channel and Long Island.

"It's kind of like mountain climbing, getting to the summit and climbing as many mountains as you possibly can," he said.

And finishing Catalina earns him the triple crown of swimming - something just 34 others have achieved.

It's not easy - the two have logged 40 miles a week day and night for several months.

"I listen to the radio and a tune sticks in my head and I keep singing it the whole time through," Barber said.

While they know Morse well, Victoria worries about the Pacific - sharks and jellyfish.

But Jim and Victoria won't be alone. A guide boat and kayaker will follow alongside providing them with power drinks and gels, so it's 30 minutes of swimming, one minute of rest and nutrition and 30 minutes all over again.

It may be Barber's last big swim - or maybe not.

"I've told myself after this I'll retire," he said. "But then I think in 2-3 years I might get antsy and find something else to do."

Maybe become the oldest male to swim the English channel? But he'll have to wait 20 years to do that.


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