One for the books: Yudovin’s feats

April 5, 2012 

In his 36-year open-ocean channel swimming career, Cambria resident David Yudovin, 60, has defeated high waves, cold water, deadly whirlpools and thousands of jellyfish stings, along with leukemia and a heart attack.

After the last of his three most recent, history-making swims — all done at the equator within a dozen days in October —Yudovin was close to death again after taking on a common but potentially fatal opponent.

He defeated that one, too.

Now he’s on to another challenge: Helping Friends of the Cambria Library meet its $1.4 million fundraising commitment for a new, larger library. The deadline in the agreement with the county is Dec. 31, and there’s still about $425,000 to raise.

He and wife-boat captain Beth Yudovin have instigated the “Reaching Your Goals, One Stroke at a Time” lasagna-and- adventure dinner Saturday, April 14, an event at which he’ll reveal details of his latest, life-threatening exploits, the couple’s ambitious goals and how they reach them, and adventures that lie


Tickets, $35, are available at the Cambria Library, 900 Main St., Cambria Chamber of Commerce, 767 Main St., or by calling 924-1814. The event starts at 5 p.m. with a no-host bar.

Funds raised go toward the library group’s fundraising goal.

Loves libraries

The library cause is dear to the Yudovins’ hearts. He says that the many hours he spent in a library as a child introduced him to swimming and the sea, and set him on his lifelong quest to swim across ocean channels that had never before been conquered.

So far, he’s done that 17 times, in addition to accomplishing swims across more traditional straits, such as the English Channel and from the California shore to Catalina, Anacapa or Santa Cruz islands.

At the fundraiser, Yudovin also plans to talk about the couple’s motivation for their strenuous 2011. “We were each celebrating our 60th birthdays and our 25th wedding anniversary. We set some goals to challenge ourselves,” he said, and then accomplished most of them.

Goals set and met

Their summer began June 2 when they launched a 78-day sail to and from Hawaii. In September, they flew to the Telo Islands, a small group northwest of Sumatra, for these three never-done-before swims:

Oct. 9: Sipika Island to Simaleko Island. He swam 9 miles in three hours, 59 minutes. “The conditions were horrible,” he said. “I received about 2,000 jellyfish stings, head to toe, pretty much throughout the swim. The jellies were getting in my goggles, my suit, my mouth, my nose.” Fortunately, the stings “were more like a mild bee sting than a wasp. Nothing like the magnitude of a man-o-war,” with which he has tangled in some previous channel swims.

Oct. 14: Telo Island to Sigata Island, 7 miles, three hours 36 minutes, under “perfect, glassy conditions.”

Oct. 20: Tanah Masa Island to Pini Island, 13 miles, seven hours, 52 minutes. “It was as hard a channel swim as I’ve ever done,” he recalled. In stiff winds, they went off course in the choppy seas, missing their intended landing area by 2 miles.

That change was the trigger for his looming brush with death.

What happened next is to be one of Yudovin’s topics at the fundraiser.

The future

Meanwhile, Yudovin has no intention of abandoning the sport or his lifelong quest to vanquish new challenges. An original plan for him to do two major channel swims in November in Cape Verde, Africa, was delayed due to awful weather (and his health crisis), but he plans to tackle that goal again next summer, even if that is high hurricane season there.

“And my ultimate goal?” he said. “To do a 2-mile swim at 90 years old in the Bosphorus and Dardanelles” straits which connect the Black Sea to the Mediterranean and separate the Asian mainland from Europe. “I’ll use every bit of experience and wisdom I’ve gleaned to nurture myself to that point.”

To do that, he can draw on 36 years of experience, “arguably the longest channel swimming career in history.”

And not even a death-defying challenge or being 60 is going to stop him.

He said “Success is knowing in my heart of hearts that we have done the best we can do,” whether in swimming, community volunteering or fundraising.

For more about David Yudovin and his previous 34 swimming accomplishments, go to www.davidyu dovinchannelswimmer . com.

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