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Longevity Likely Leveled By Lyme

Courtesy of WOWSA, Huntington Beach, California.

Kathie Hewko has been swimming across and underneath the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco Bay for the last 39 consecutive years. From 1976 to 2014, she has completed 91 crossings, the longevity record for the most crossings of the Golden Gate Bridge.

She accomplished her 50th Golden Gate Bridge swim on her 60th birthday and has planned to swim her 100th crossing on her 70th birthday sometime in 2016. Her times have ranged from a current-boosted 26 minutes to a grueling 90-minute battle against the tides and chop.

But the debilitating effects of Lyme Disease are slowing her down. Way way down. Her streak of 39 consecutive years of swimming at least once across the Golden Gate Bridge may be in jeopardy this year because the bacterial disease is wrecking havoc on her body.

One of the biggest things I deal with is migraine-like headaches that sometimes last all day, but once I get into the pool I feel so much better. It’s like I’m going back home.”

But her optimism remains infectious. “Life does have its challenges, but I still have the bathing suit from my first first Golden Gate Bridge swim. It is an old nylon,” explains the fit Michigan native. “And I plan to wear it on my 100th crossing.

Copyright © 2015 by World Open Water Swimming Association

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