Claudia Rose swims across Kachemak Bay last Friday

Claudia Rose swims across Kachemak Bay last Friday

San Diego woman swims across bay

Last Friday on her 40th birthday, a San Diego cold-water, open-ocean swimmer did what only six other people, including three other women, have done: swim across Kachemak Bay. With her partner Al Bremer paddling alone beside her in a bright-yellow kayak, Claudia Rose pushed off from the beach by Land’s End Resort on the Homer Spit at about 11 a.m. and by 1 p.m. landed at McKeon Flats at the mouth of China Poot Bay, about 4 nautical miles or 4.6 miles.

Rose duplicated a swim pioneered on Aug. 4, 2006, by a group of three women and one man, Liz Villarreal, Ingrid Harrald, Kristin Siemann and Brian Stone. Earlier that same day, two Anchorage men, Chris Hodel and Bob Kaufman, swam a slightly different route from the Spit to Halibut Cove.

Rose, however, pegged a first for her swim: she’s the only person so far to cross Kachemak Bay wearing a thin Nike tank swimming suit, what master’s swimmers call “naked” swimming.

Rose had first planned to swim on Thursday, but high winds and seas with whitecaps caused her to scrub her plans. An Ashore Water Taxi boat, the Blackfish, operated by Dave Lyon, also followed Rose on her Friday swim. As the Blackfish pitch-poled through rough seas on Thursday, Lyon advised Rose to call off the swim. On Friday, with calmer seas, she made another attempt.

 “It was smooth and glassy,” Rose said on Friday afternoon in a phone interview as she warmed up in the hot tub at Land’s End Resort. “It was nice. We had an incoming tide that seemed like it was pushing me along. Either that, or I swam the fastest 4 (nautical) miles I ever swam.”

Most of the trip was in seas with a water temperature of 52 degrees.

“The last 500 yards was glacial runoff and I was miserably cold,” Rose said, estimating the water temperature there to be in the low 40s.

With silt from glaciers and other runoff, Rose said she could see where currents sheered against each other. During the swim, her suit had filled up with silt. Except for the last leg, she said she felt strong on the swim.

“Until then I was nice and strong and fast, warm and smooth,” she said. “Well, warm for here.”

The last stretch was the coldest water Rose said she had ever swum in. Rose has done long-distance swims across the Catalina Channel, including a solo swim in 2006 and a relay in 2009. This summer she swam as part of an Alaska Masters team in a sanctioned swim across Sitka Sound. In California she swims with the La Jolla Cove Swim Club. La Jolla gets cold water in the 50s from deep water rising up near there, so a La Jolla winter is like an Alaska summer. 

Rose grew up swimming in New England and has a classic cold-water swimmer’s body with more body fat. However, she’s not as heavy as some cold-water swimmers, she said, and doesn’t have the well-distributed body fat of legendary cold-water swimmer Lynne Cox, who did a training run in Kachemak Bay in 1988. Rose started ocean swimming in 2004 after joint pain kept her from other sports like running. Now, she gets body pains if she doesn’t swim.

Her Kachemak Bay swim was training for a longer, more ambitious swim she plans next summer: an 8-mile swim across Cook Inlet at the Forelands between Nikiski and Kustatan to raise awareness about the Cook Inlet environment. She wore a custom swimming cap with an image of a dolphin on one side and a beluga whale on the other to show her support for the environment.

“We swim for the belugas and the marine mammals of the world who keep getting squeezed out of their habitat,” Rose said.

She swam in just a tank suit “in sympathy with the belugas and the orcas out there who don’t get to wear wetsuits,” Rose added.

Rose used to drink fancy sport drinks. On a Catalina Channel swim when she got sick from diesel fuel, she found she could keep down green tea. Now green tea with a mix of complex carbohydrates is her hydration of choice. The night before she ate salmon and that morning had a boiled egg and a Pop Tart. She tries to eat a lot of protein before big swims.

A Cook Inlet swim will  be in warmer waters but faster currents, Rose said. That distance is about 8 miles. Rose said with the current it should cover 20 miles. Nobody has ever done a Cook Inlet crossing, and many say it’s not possible because of the currents.

“If you work with the current, you can do it,” she said.

The Sitka Sound swim also was a first crossing for Rose and the other swimmers — but not the first for land mammals. Locals told Rose that problem brown bears taken across the sound had been known to swim back.

Michael Armstrong can be reached at

as Al Brenner kayaks next to her. -Photo by Channa Rist

as Al Brenner kayaks next to her. -Photo by Channa Rist

More in News

Christie Hill prepares to play “Taps” during the 9/11 memorial service on Saturday. (Photo by Sarah Knapp/Homer News)
Homer honors lives lost during 9/11

The Homer-Kachemak Bay Rotary held a Sept. 11 memorial ceremony at the… Continue reading

Judith Eckert
COVID-19 patient says monoclonal antibody infusion saved her life

Antibody infusions highly effective in reducing risk of hospitalization, according to FDA trial ..

A sign flashing “Keep COVID down” also offers information on where to get testing and vaccines on Thursday, Sept. 2, 2021, on the Homer Spit in Homer, Alaska. (Photo by Michael Armstrong/Homer News)
SPH holding steady in COVID-19 surge

Despite hospital crisis in Anchorage, Homer’s hospital not impacted, spokesperson tells Homer City Council.

Brie Drummond speaks in support of mask mandates on Monday, Sept. 13, for the Kenai Peninsula School Board meeting at Homer High School in Homer, Alaska. During a work session before the meeting, the district presented revisions to its COVID-19 mitigation protocols. (Photo by Michael Armstrong/Homer News)
School district revises COVID-19 mitigation plans

The revisions come as COVID-19 cases continue to surge in Alaska and on the Kenai Peninsula.

A protester stands outside the George A. Navarre Borough Admin building in Soldotna on Tuesday, Sept. 14, 2021. (Camille Botello/Peninsula Clarion)
Parents square off over masks at school board meeting

Some parents said they will keep their kids home if masks are required, while others say they’ll keep their kids home if masks aren’t required.

Borough School Board election

On Tuesday, Oct. 5, elections will be held for Homer City Council,… Continue reading

Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly election

On Tuesday, Oct. 5, elections will be held for Homer City Council,… Continue reading

Homer City Council election

On Tuesday, Oct. 5, elections will be held for Homer City Council,… Continue reading

Janie Leask, a Homer resident, spoke in support of the new multi-use community center during Monday night’s city council meeting, stating the need for community recreation is vital.
Council moves forward with HERC plans

After years of discussions and planning, the Homer City Council is quickly… Continue reading

Most Read