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Archive Sep 21, 2012

Former Hamden Resident Added on List of Triple Crown of Open Water Swimmers

Cindy WalshFormer Hamden resident, Cynthia Tobin Walsh, has been added to the list of Triple Crown of Open Water Swimmers, with her September 1, 2012, crossing of the English Channel. She is #63 on this list of swimmers worldwide (and the 26th woman) who have accomplished this feat. Requirements are completion of swims across the Catalina Channel (21 miles), English Channel (21 miles), and the Manhattan Island Marathon Swim (28.5 miles). Cindy has also successfully done the Tampa Bay Marathon Swim (24 miles) and Lake Pend Oreille, Idaho (15 miles), and a second crossing of the Catalina Channel. Cindy is the daughter of Hamden resident, Gerry Tobin, who recently retired from employment with the Town of Hamden.     

When she started her swim at around 2:45am, wearing a bathing suit, bathing cap, swim goggles, grease, and light sticks so she would be visible in the dark, the channel was calm. At about three hours into the swim, the water became choppy, and then got progressively worse. She said it felt like she was in a washing machine, but her boyfriend, Jim Fitzpatrick (#53 on the Triple Crown list), and the boat captain kept encouraging her to stay in, and even lied to her about how much more time it would take her to reach France. Fourteen hours and 19 minutes after her start, she walked onto the shore of France.

Cindy started swimming when she was 10 years old. As a member of the Hamden Heronettes, Cindy helped her team finish seconded at the Senior Nationals in Long Beach in 1979. Her team also appeared on ABC’s Wide World of Sports during a broadcast of the National Junior Olympics. She was also a member of her high school girls swim team.

After graduating from DeSales University with a degree in nursing, Cindy moved to San Diego and began working as a staff registered nurse at Sharp Memorial Hospital. She went on to earn her master’s degree in nursing from the University of Phoenix and also worked as a part-time lecturer for San Diego State University until 2010. Cindy currently serves as the Manager of the Cardiovascular Services and Transplant Programs at Sharp Memorial Hospital. Cindy said she loves her career, but it can be very stressful at times, and long distance, competitive swimming is a great way to decrease stress and escape pagers, cell phones, and email. Cindy enjoys the peace and tranquility of swimming in open water, although she has encountered sea lions, biting sea fleas, floating trash, and hypothermia inducing temperatures, but nothing deters her from her passion. “Although it is a solo sport, I couldn’t be a successful swimmer without a terrific support crew. Many people help with the planning and preparation of each swim, and I’m always accompanied by someone on a support boat, paddle board, or kayak to keep me on course. Without everyone’s help, these swims would be impossible.”

What’s next for Cindy? She isn’t sure, but she is sure she will continue her early morning swims in LaJolla Cove or the pool with her swim friends, men, and women of all ages right up into their seventies. Swimming is a lifetime sport!

Photo: Cindy Walsh with Fellow Triple Crowner, Jim Fitzpatrick.
Photo Courtesy: Jim Fitzpatrick