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Woman ends attempt to swim 93 miles from Sacramento to Tiburon

Kim Chambers swims at the wharf in San Francisco in 2014. Chambers became the first woman to swim the 30-mile stretch from the Farallon Islands to the Golden Gate Bridge. On Friday, Chambers set out on a 93-mile swim from Sacramento to Belvedere. She halted the attempt after about 24 hours.
Kim Chambers swims at the wharf in San Francisco in 2014. Chambers became the first woman to swim the 30-mile stretch from the Farallon Islands to the Golden Gate Bridge. On Friday, Chambers set out on a 93-mile swim from Sacramento to Belvedere. She halted the attempt after about 24 hours. San Francisco Chronicle file

Endurance swimmer Kim Chambers ended her record bid Saturday to swim 93 miles from Sacramento to Tiburon after facing high winds that led her to call off the attempt 24 hours in.

Chambers told The Sacramento Bee she climbed onto a support boat around noon at Sherman Island near the mouth of the Sacramento River with 30-knot winds gusting over the previous eight hours. The swim was scheduled to conclude Sunday, about 48 hours after she began, and become the longest ever solo swim in California.

“The windmills were just spinning and there were kite surfers and wind surfers everywhere,” Chambers said Saturday afternoon. “So it was just the wind that was gusting and it was unsafe for everyone involved.”

She added: “I know my training was right so that’s a really good feeling. It’s a satisfaction that I was as prepared as I could be and I controlled what I could control. ... You have to surrender to the unknown and get what you get.”

Chambers, a member of Night Train Swimmers, began her journey at noon Friday from the Sacramento Yacht Club in West Sacramento about 4 miles south of downtown Sacramento, said support team member Kala Sherman-Presser.

A 39-year-old New Zealander who lives in San Francisco, she used a route through the Sacramento River and Steamboat Slough toward San Francisco Bay. She and Night Train are teaming with Warrior Canine Connection to generate support for recovering veterans and their families.

Chambers abided by English Channel rules prohibiting the use of a wetsuit and resting on a boat.

Last year, Chambers swam 30 miles of shark-infested waters from the Farallon Islands to San Francisco, becoming the first woman to accomplish the swim.

This weekend’s swim attempt was three times longer than any of Chambers’ past swims. The feat has been attempted by multiple swimmers, with no recorded solo attempt to date, according to organizers.

Chambers said swimming the river presented its own challenges compared with swimming oceans, with the river’s fresh water providing much less buoyancy compared with salt water. The river’s currents also worked against her at times.

Although she didn’t finish the swim, taking on the enormous challenge was its own reward, she said.

“You never really realize what you’re capable of until you try,” she said. “It’s been about setting a goal and putting your heart and body toward reaching that goal.”

Pictures allow us to remember what we feel, and until you review the pictures from that horrific day and the weeks following, it's easy to forget what that day felt like. This is a reminder.

The Bee’s Kevin Yamamura contributed to this report. Cathy Locke: 916-321-5287, @lockecathy

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