Rehoboth Beach Man Swims Across Delaware Bay - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Reported by Oren Lieberman

Rehoboth Beach Man Swims Across Delaware Bay

Paul Timmons managed to swim at a pace of 2 miles per hour during Monday's swim across the Delaware Bay. (Photo: WBOC) Paul Timmons managed to swim at a pace of 2 miles per hour during Monday's swim across the Delaware Bay. (Photo: WBOC)
Timmons climbed out of the water for his first and only time to change into a thicker suit. After that, the last time he got out of the water was when he had crossed the bay. (Photo: WBOC) Timmons climbed out of the water for his first and only time to change into a thicker suit. After that, the last time he got out of the water was when he had crossed the bay. (Photo: WBOC)
An exhausted Timmons walks with his girlfriend Marisol Alarcon after he had completed the swim. (Photo: WBOC) An exhausted Timmons walks with his girlfriend Marisol Alarcon after he had completed the swim. (Photo: WBOC)

07/18/2006

CAPE MAY, N.J.- To boat across the Delaware Bay takes about 45 minutes. How long it would take to swim across was anyone's guess until Monday, July 17, when Paul Timmons managed to last the entire 15 miles. 

The 37-year-old Rehoboth Beach native took his first stroke at 5:30 a.m. from Cape May, N.J., surrounded by a boat, two kayaks and the morning sun.

Swimming mentor Ray Peden said early in the journey, "I think he has a very good chance of being successful today."

Timmons plowed through the 70 degree water at two miles an hour, with each stroke raising money for the Tunnell Cancer Center at Beebe Medical Center.  The tide pushed him out to sea in the morning, and back in later on.

Training partner Dave Luscan swam with him for half-hour stretches, giving Timmons a source of motivation, and this reporter a source of updates.

Around 6:30 a.m., Luscan climbed out for the first time and said, "I think Paul's doing really well.  He looks good."  The sentiment would not change.

"Oh yeah, he's gonna make it,  no doubt," Luscan said. "One-hundred percent positive."

Timmons' girlfriend, Marisol Alarcon, urged him on, yelling, "You're doing great!" at regular intervals.

An hour into the swim, Timmons climbed out for the first and only time. His wetsuit was too thin, and he was freezing.

"It's a little colder than I thought," he said as he climbed out.

As he climbs into a thicker suit, his legs shook, but moments later Timmons jumped back into the water, and back on track in the wide open sea.

But each small swell brought a new wave of unwelcome visitors: jellyfish. They stung Timmons on his hands, arms and face.  In short, any bit of exposed flesh was fair game.

Luscan faired no better. 

"It feels like if I looked at myself in the mirror, that I would have been rubbed with sandpaper," he said after climbing out.

But Timmons mentor Ray Peden said he his pupil was doing great: on pace and on target.

A few hours in, Peden observed, "He is as strong right now as he was when he started."

Peden would know.  He has done this sort of thing before, crossing the English Channel in 1986.  Though the Channel swim stretched 35 miles through water that barely cracked 50 degrees, Peden compares swimming the Delaware Bay to swimming the Channel.  He said the winds and the water can change without warning, and both require enormous endurance.

Timmons refueled every couple of hours on power gels and Gatorade, less than one minute to break and breathe at a time.  A quick break.  A quick update.

"Feel good.  Feel better.  I was feeling cold.  Feel good now," yelled Timmons before starting his swim again.

Every hour brought new answers to old questions.  How far?  How long?  And after each round of answers, calls to friends and family.

Seven hours and 15 minutes, 15 miles, and 30,000 strokes later, Timmons reached Cape Henlopen, receiving immediate congratulations from the two kayakers who flanked him all along, and his swimming partner, Luscan.

"Good job man!  That was awesome," Luscan said.

Timmons managed to utter, "It's the single most gratifying thing I've ever done in my life," before his girlfriend leaped into his arms. 

"Thank you so much baby, I love you so much!  Thank you my darling!"

The rest and relaxation will only last so long.  Timmons starts training for the Ironman World Championships in Hawaii soon.  Like the swim across the Delaware Bay, the Ironman will test everything he has, starting with a 2.4 mile swim, transitioning to a 112 mile bike ride, and concluding with a 26.2 mile run.

Beebe Medical Center officials say money is still pouring in from Timmons' Monday swim  and they are not sure how much is in so far. 

Anyone who would like to donate to the Tunnel Cancer Center, can log on to www.beebemedicalfoundation.org or call (302) 644-2900.

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