In the early morning hours of Sept. 21, Santa Clara’s Ken Mignosa rose out of the waters near Oxnard in Ventura County. He hugged his wife Tiffany and then the two of them celebrated.
Mignosa had just completed a 41-mile marathon swim, lovingly dubbed “Ken’s Cruz” by his son. He swam for 29 hours and 22 minutes, starting from a beach in Oxnard, swimming around Anacapa Island to Santa Cruz Island and then making the long swim back to Oxnard.
It was a swim no one had ever accomplished before and it was the second longest solo marathon swim in California Channel Islands history.
“Solo in that there’s only one person swimming, but there are all these people involved,” said Mignosa.
He is quick to credit the crew that helped him along his journey, a team of eight people who stayed close by during the entire swim.
“I don’t really consider it competition,” said Mignosa. “It’s more about the journey and getting from Point A to Point B, or back to Point A in this case.”
Amazingly, Mignosa only began attempting marathon swims in July of 2017 at the age of 53.
“I’d be in [the pool] for an hour or two and I didn’t feel like it was enough,” said Mignosa. He laughs and says that the other downside was having to turn around too soon.
Now Mignosa swims in the San Francisco Bay where he only has to turn around when he’s ready to. Marathon swimmers are not allowed to use a wetsuit in challenges because it adds buoyancy to the swimmer, so Mignosa doesn’t wear one while training.
“Ideally, anything I do for training is colder than what I do for the marathon swim,” said Mignosa. “As long as you keep moving, it tends to be okay.”
Despite only starting a year ago, Mignosa has already accomplished a number of feats for marathon swimmers. He completed the California Triple Crown in 2017 which includes a swim across Lake Tahoe, a swim from Catalina Island to the Mainland, and a swim from the Mainland to Anacapa Island.
Mignosa now has his sights set on completing the Triple Crown of Open Water Swimming. He has already completed two of the swims — from Catalina Island to the Mainland and the Manhattan Island Marathon Swim which takes you around Manhattan Island in New York. All that he has left is to swim the English Channel.
Until then, Mignosa continues to share his passion with swimmers here in Santa Clara. He teaches Masters classes at the Santa Clara Swim Club and teaches lifeguarding, CPR and first aid at the Fremont High School pool in Sunnyvale.
While he has no more marathon swims planned for this year, Mignosa is still getting recognition for his past work. “Ken’s Cruz” is one of 15 marathon swims nominated for the World of Open Water Swimming Association’s 2018 Performance of the Year Award. The winner will be announced on Jan. 1, 2019.