GLENDALE — The location for the annual Maui Channel Swim wasn’t decided on by chance.
Rather, the 10 nautical-mile stretch of sea between the islands of Lanai and Maui is strategically chosen for being known as one of the more docile channels of the Hawaiian archipelago, in terms of wave swell and currents, to stage a long-distance open-water race.
No such luck for Glendale High alumnus James Paisley, who participated in the 2009 running of the event on Sept. 5, which turned out to be an unusually windy day for a swim.
“They just had abnormal winds all week out there and what that did was create a lot more swell,” said Paisley, who was one of a handful of individuals selected to compete in the event, which also allows team entries. “On top of all that, the winds were coming from the north rather than the south like they normally do.
“It definitely caught me off guard.”
Paisley found himself swimming against the current for the last mile and a half of the course, which he finished in 5 hours 23 minutes.
Weather conditions made the swim more grueling than Paisley had anticipated, but well worth it, nonetheless, considering his motivation for getting in the water.
Within the larger event of the Maui Channel Swim, Paisley, a Masters swimmer, dubbed his individual effort the “Swim-4-Sweat” in honor of his 8-year old son Ty, who has the rare genetic disorder hypohidrotic ectodermal dysplasia.
A symptom of the condition is the inability to perspire and, accordingly, swimming is a favorite pastime of those who have it.
Paisley used the event to raise funds for the National Foundation for Ectodermal Dysplasia, recognized as the only charity in the United States fully dedicated to helping families understand and cope with the various forms of the disorder.
While adding that donations are still coming in, Paisley estimated that his effort has raised over $27,000 for the foundation so far.
Paisley was led by a guide boat that attempted to chart the best northward course, but the unexpected winds made that difficult. He guessed he swam upward of 11 total miles when taking resistance from the strong currents into account.
“I got through it,” Paisley said. “Fortunately, I was conditioned enough to do it.”
It was originally planned for Ty to ride along in the guide boat and even swim the last half mile or so with James, but the choppy sea kept Ty on the shore with a group of about 20 friends and family, where he swam out a ways into the surf to greet his father at the end of the swim.
“The most important thing is I finished and it was a successful fundraiser,” Paisley said.