Huntington marathon swimmer Katie Blair found the positive in an incredibly negative situation this week. Blair, 41, successfully swam the 20.5 miles between the Caribbean Islands of St. Lucia and Martinique on Tuesday, but she was unsuccessful in her attempt to finish the reverse swim after covering 41.1 miles in 29 hours and 10 minutes.
“Setting out into a second night was a mental challenge but also brought many jellies up and I was stung every few minutes all night long,” Blair wrote in an email. “(They were) minor stings but likely a factor in a tongue so swollen I could not swallow much anymore by 3 a.m.
“The second morning we battled the current for about 5 hours without getting closer to shore as we were pushed out into channel water. At roughly 6:35 a.m., I decided to tend to my swelling tongue and trouble breathing after learning even if conditions were to become perfect (not likely), I was still about 3 hours out.”
Blair said her previous longest swim was 26 miles and 18 hours in Hawaii's Molokai Channel in 2013.
“Yes, we did not finish on land, but I could not be more proud and content,” she wrote. “This was a massive improvement for me and breaking 24 hours of ocean swimming has been a dream since 2010!
“I believe in safety first and want my crew and son to have a good adventure, and that we did. We are grateful to be here and I am grateful I grew a little. Gonna go rest more now. (I've) got lips like Angelina Jolie (it does not suit me)... There's always another adventure.”
This attempt was previously scheduled for March but had to be pushed back because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Blair has been a mental health counselor at Otis R. Bowen Center in Huntington since 2018. She and her son Ashton, a sophomore at Huntington North, are scheduled to return home Monday.