Meredith Novack made a sensational marathon swimming debut in Hawaii. Swimming from the island of Lanai to Maui and back, Novack made history as the first female to swim the double Auau Channel. Encountering two tiger sharks, the athlete proved that with heart and determination, anything is possible. She smashed the men’s world record by 44 minutes and has inspired millions “to keep moving forward when facing adversity.”
Hawai’i overall experienced a total of 14 shark attacks in 2013, so Novack’s crew was well equipped with a kayaker, spear gun, bang stick, people that would jump to help her and someone to radio Maui Water Patrol. It was to no surprise that during an 11 hour swim, Novack encountered two tiger sharks. Read what the world record breaking swimmer has to say about the interaction:
“Going into this swim, my crew and I knew that we had to address safety. We had a strong Emergency Action Plan. The morning before the swim, we all sat down and discussed exactly what everyone would do if there was a shark incident. We had a specific chain of command and everyone had a job.
“The first time a shark was sighted, I had been swimming for about six hours and Jennifer Nookester was kayaking next to me. She signaled the boat and I caught a glimpse of her while I was breathing. She gave me a quick thumbs up and then started waving her hands wildly and cheering when she saw me see her. Then everyone on the boat started jumping up and down and cheering wildly. Completely confused, I guessed they were just excited for me and I picked up the pace. Jennifer then kayaked very wide away from me for the next ten minutes and I wondered why she was so far away. She was afraid that the shark was attracted to the kayak. Everyone was on edge but, thankfully, the shark swam away.” – Meredith Novack
The second shark is a whole ‘nother story! That is when all hell broke loose. But you will have to read the book I am writing to find out what happened!”
Unlike most swims at this caliber, Novack relied on a small budget of $4,200 and a few volunteers to accomplish her goal.
“To put my insanely small budget into perspective, Diana Nyad had a crew of thirty five, 3 boats and half a million dollars. I had a tiny fishing boat with no bathroom, a borrowed SharkShield, the best local volunteer crew I could find, and a motley assortment of Hawaiian sponsors including Aloha Salads (I ate their salads almost every day for ten months), Marsha Nadalin Salon (I have the best beach hair in the world thanks to Kahea), Mokulule Airlines and the Kaanapali Beach Resort and Hotel (they helped us with deeply discounted rates), plus so much support from the Waikiki Swim Club and University of Hawaii Masters Swim Team. It is a miracle in itself that this swim happened with my donated budget of $4,200. For quite a few weeks, I am sure people were wondering if we would make it to the start line!” -Meredith Novack
Now that Novack has documented the world record for the fastest time ever swimming from Lanai to Maui and back, her goal is to be the first person to ever swim around the entire island of Oahu at the end of Summer 2015.
“I want to raise one million dollars for international charities with local tie ins – for example, McDonald’s and the Honolulu Ronald McDonald House. I am looking for the right companies to sponsor this $200,000 event. This month long event will be a media extravaganza. There is no better backdrop than the beauty of Hawaii!” -Meredith Novack