Earlier this month, two Long Beach natives, avid ocean swimmers and lifeguards successfully completed a two-person relay swim across the Catalina Channel as a fundraiser for two nonprofits committed to fighting plastic pollution in our oceans, 5 Gyres and Long Beach nonprofit Algalita.
Devon Beebe and Tess Parkhouse are the two amazing lifeguards who are motivating all of us to physically challenge ourselves, and serve as better stewards to our oceans.
Tess holds a Master’s Degree in Global Science from the University of Southern California; in addition she was an Emergency Medical Technician (EMT).
As the youngest of three, growing up she participated in all she could with her older siblings. Her 9-year-old sister was part of the Junior Lifeguard Program and Tess was often nearby with her mom watching the older kids.
At 5, Tess was at the pier’s end — seeing the Junior Guards jump in and she wanted to join in. Program leadership granted her permission, and before you can say courageous mini-mermaid she was in the water, asking permission to swim ashore.
She was in her element. Of course, today this could never happen. It does speak to her early passion for open water swimming.
Devon Beebe’s great grandfather was a founder and served as the first Commodore for the Marina Yacht Club of Long Beach in 1957. (The paper club that believes members should be out on the water instead of inside a clubhouse.)
The group’s most prestigious award is the Joan Beebe Sportsmanship Afloat trophy, named in honor of Devon’s great grandmother. According to Staff Commodore John Caldwell, the deed of gift is dated 1959 and each year recognizes the member who exhibited generous and kind behavior on the water. Beebe’s great aunt Sherry, at age 20, sailed with a four-man crew from Hawaii to Vancouver in 1965 in a 34-foot ketch. The voyage made headlines back in the day after the engine failed and the vessel was overdue.
It sure sounds like for generations the Beebe women have been adventurous Long Beach water goddesses.
Devon Beebe was selected to represent the California Surf Lifesaving Association in New Zealand for the 50th California/New Zealand lifeguard exchange. Devon spent six weeks in New Zealand in 2018, traveling to 17 surf lifesaving clubs while observing and participating in various lifesaving practices.
Both women are modest about their channel–crossing achievement and were quick to express their gratitude on-line, saying, “Kudos to the boat crew, Chuck Sacks, Bob Mangione, and Brian Parkhouse and our support kayakers, Long Beach lifeguards Molica Anderson and Mia Tedesco.”
Parkhouse shared some details, “We left from Doctor's Cove on Catalina Island at 10:38 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 3, and completed our swim at 10:55 a.m. for a total of 12 hours and 17 minutes.”
She continued, “Our anticipated completion time was about 10 hours — so we originally planned on each swimming two legs for 2 and a half hours each (combined total of 10 hours). However, the currents weren't working in our favor, so we had to make some last minute adjustments to our plan.”
“We ended up each swimming a 2.5 hour leg, and then each swam for another 2 hours. Once we completed a total of 9 hours of swimming, we had 5.3 miles left to go. Rather than splitting our last legs by time, we opted to each swim half the distance — about 2.7 miles each.”
With just a couple hundred yards to go, Tess jumped in from off the boat and joined Devon as they swam to the finish together.
So far the duo has raised $8,390 — with a goal of $10K. Algalita, a Long Beach-based nonprofit, works to inspire the next generation of visionaries while 5 Gyres’ seeks to empower action against the global health crisis of plastic pollution to donate, go to charity.gofundme.com/o/en/campaign/catalinaswimtrio.
Thanks to Hank Wise, who not only coached Tess and Devon on how best to tackle this goal, he also suggested I write about them. If you have an idea for an “On the Water” local story email me at Jo@JoVenture.com.