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8/28/2013 6:00:00 AM
Kingman swimmer crosses Strait of Gibraltar
Jacob Miyauchi
Jacob Miyauchi

Matt Hollinshead
Miner Staff Reporter

KINGMAN - Imagine swimming from the southern tip of Spain to the coastline of Morocco, located in northwestern Africa, in just one day. It's normally a 12-mile swim in the Strait of Gibraltar in five to eight feet of cold water - 68 degrees, to be exact.

On top of that, you have to deal with rough winds of up to 20 miles per hour while wearing just swim trunks - no wetsuit. Those conditions made the 12-mile swim into a 15.5-mile journey. And let's not forget sharks and other undersea creatures that may come in your path. Scary, isn't it?

Fewer than 400 people have ever accomplished this feat. Sixteen-year-old Jacob Miyauchi, a member of the Kingman Dolphins Swim, added his name to that list Friday. In only five hours and 32 minutes, he became the youngest American to complete the swim.

"To see his drive, his determination, his hard work and his training that he put in on his own to do that, and then to be successful in the event, it's just icing on the cake," said Terry Miyauchi, Jacob's father and also an avid swimmer. "I didn't probably have a true grasp of how difficult that swim is until I actually got over there. From one side to where you almost couldn't see the other end of the swim, the rough water and conditions kind of put it in a whole different perspective."

Under Coach Joe Ziemitus, Jacob's desire to swim the course started last year. He trained with Team Neptune in Phoenix six days a week for the past 10 months.

The team had to seek permission from the Spanish Maritime Authority to begin, followed by the Moroccan Coast Guard to finish. They had to arrive early in the day before the rough winds set in.

"I just saw the waves just crashing on the shore. I thought, 'What am I getting myself into?' " Jacob said. "We started the swim, and we just settled into a nice pace. It was rough, but we just managed it."

Toward the end of the swim, they had a four-hour window to safely reach Morocco.

"The tide started changing on us," Jacob said. "I got pretty cold toward the last little bit of the swim. I tried to keep on fighting through it."

Their chance to safely reach shore came within the final 30 minutes of that time block. They had to reach a lighthouse near the harbor they used as their rendezvous point.

"The wind just picked up. Literally, I'm getting drenched in the boat. In my mind, I'm thinking, 'There's no way they'll be able to make it. It's too rough,' " Terry said. "About the last mile, the water calmed down. The current's still strong, but there's no more whitecaps."

They only had an hour of sunlight on their hands to reach their destination. Now swimming in manageable conditions, the swimmers came across close to 100 dolphins. They circled around the swimmers, swam right under them, jumped above the surface in front of them.

"That just gave us a large confidence boost, and it took our minds off the swim," Jacob said. "Being in a big ocean, it was kind of neat to feel that experience. I just felt confident throughout the swim."

He reached the lighthouse and finished one of the toughest obstacles a swimmer can face.

"I remember just crying up to the rocks and finishing the swim," Jacob said.

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Reader Comments

Posted: Saturday, September 7, 2013
Article comment by: Susan Hanks

Jacob is one of the most humble and well grounded students I have ever met. He gets embarrassed by all the "to do" about his accomplishment. There are great things in store for this mature, focused, hardworking young man.

Posted: Thursday, September 5, 2013
Article comment by: OGGIE 911


Posted: Thursday, August 29, 2013
Article comment by: Way to Go!

Congratulations to this young man for his amazing accomplishments. Praise is well deserved. The world needs more stories like this and less about Miley Cyrus' latest antics.

Posted: Thursday, August 29, 2013
Article comment by: Sports Crazy

Very impressive!

Posted: Wednesday, August 28, 2013
Article comment by: jill moon

Congrats Jacob!!! You are amazing! We are so very proud of you. What a great accomplishment!!

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