Rob DeCou, a Port Angeles native trying to become the 14th known person to swim across the Strait of Juan de Fuca, called off his attempt for safety reasons overnight.
“I made it within 670 feet of Canadian shore before the currents swept me back. It took a few minutes of talking to the crew and we made a decision to pull out for safety reasons,” DeCou said in a progress update posted on his Facebook page at about 2:30 Sunday morning.
“I can’t thank all the supporters and our crew enough. It was an incredible day and I felt like my body and my crew performed outstanding.”
In an update posted at about 11:30 p.m. Saturday, DeCou was still in the water well past dark and fighting changing currents. DeCou and his support team earlier in the evening began seeking alternative landing sites to Ogden Point at Victoria after currents moved them east.
DeCou’s swim ended up covering more than 31 miles instead of the planned 18.3 miles due to currents.
———OUR EARLIER REPORT———
PORT ANGELES — Rob DeCou, a Port Angeles native who aims to become the 14th known person to swim across the Strait of Juan de Fuca, was nearly to Canada by late Saturday afternoon.
At 4 p.m., he had swum 16 miles and was 9.5 miles south of Ogden Point at Victoria, said his wife, Kristin DeCou, who was part of his crew in the Strait.
He was expected to make landfall sometime between 8 p.m. and 11 p.m. Saturday, said Justin Church, captain of the secondary support boat.
A strong current pushed him westward and increased his journey from the 18.3 miles in 12 hours that he had anticipated, his wife said.
“Rob is feeling good,” she said in an email at 4 p.m. “The morning was a little worse because he was cramping up and the currents were working against him, but at this point he’s determined to finish no matter how long it takes.
“Rob said he doesn’t even mind the pain right now (mind over body), and is fine with the extra miles if that’s what it takes.”
DeCou, 37, began Saturday’s swim from Dungeness Spit at 6:02 a.m. with great weather, his crew reported — “clear skies, minimal wind and 1-foot swells.”
“The strong current is looking to be the most challenging condition for the day,” Church said earlier on Saturday.
“The weather is not too unusual for the conditions this morning, but we’ll keep praying that the winds don’t pick up.”
At noon, a post said that the water had reached 53 degrees and was inviting enough that a crew member jumped in for a dip.
At 1:25 p.m., the Coho ferry passed DeCou as it headed to Victoria, according to his Facebook page.
“On board were close friends and family, including kids Hudson and Kalea, cheering him on,” the post said.
DeCou, an executive producer working with video and animation who now lives in Los Angeles, Calif., is raising funds for human-trafficking prevention. He is a member of the Playa Venice Rotary Club.
He generally participates in ultra-endurance events on land, but he wanted to do something outside of his comfort zone, he said.
He has trained for the past year and half to swim across the Strait.
He graduated from Port Angeles High School in 2000. He taught business and entrepreneur classes through Peninsula College at the Clallam Bay Correction Center from 2012 to 2014.
DeCou is making the swim in a wetsuit.
Paul Webber, Orlando Boleda, Ken Goodman and Jill Yoneda have completed the swim with wetsuits.
Nine people have swum across the Strait without a wetsuit, eight of whom are recognized by the Northwest Open Water Swimming Association.
Those who have made the crossing without wetsuits are Bert Thomas, Cliff Lumsdon, Amy Hiland, Ben Laughren, Marilyn Bell, Vicki Keith, Andrew Malinak, Susan Simmons and Melissa Blaustein.
Executive Editor Leah Leach can be reached at 360-417-3530 or at [email protected].