Underwater shoot

A crew sets up for an underwater film shoot.

Living in the Aquatic Capital of America, we are surrounding with rarified water. One of our local superstar waterwomen is Katie Rowe, who shared this insightful thought, “You can stop swimming, but swimming is always within you. Our bay is the blood that runs through all Long Beach swimmers.”

A fifth generation Long Beach resident, Rowe grew up swimming at her grandparents' house on Sorrento in the bay, where they would challenge her to swim all the way across and back. “I started swimming at Long Beach YC at age 5. My dad offered me a lobster dinner if I broke any of the records.”

She paused, smiled and continued, “He stopped offering when I got to 22 dinners.”

Rowe swam at Beach Swim Club in its heyday for Klaus Barth, then ultimately for Long Beach Olympian Tim Shaw. While at Wilson, she held all swim records but two, won CIF 10 times and held numerous CIF records — earning her a scholarship to UCLA.

Currently Rowe helps run Swim Long Beach Masters at Belmont Pool (pending re-opening) and assists at Wilson with the swim teams.

“I religiously swim year round with a small group of friends in the bay and the local waters," she said. "No wetsuits allowed. There is absolutely no corner of the bay or ocean in Long Beach we haven't swum in — normally before the sun is up.

“This year I'm missing our annual August Swim Long Beach Masters' Piers and Beers events, where we rent the Big Red Bus, wear costumes, and travel down to Balboa, Newport, Huntington, and Seal Beach piers and swim them all.”

She continued, “There may be some adult libations consumed as well. It ends at the Shannon’s Bayshore saloon, in Speedos.” 

She added, “The event I'm NOT missing is our 100x100s swim in the pool — 10,000 meters of grind. It's an annual Long Beach Christmas Eve tradition as long as I can remember.”

Career-wise, Rowe is in the film business as a stunt coordinator and stunt performer, specializing in water work — she can hold her breath underwater for just under 5 minutes. Her stuntwoman talents include marksmanship, high speed driving and she holds a black belt in Kenpo-based mixed martial arts.

Most recently she coordinated "American Horror Story 1984," "Will and Grace," and a new HBO Max series called "Made For Love." She often works on "SWAT," and recently worked on "Avatar," "The Laundromat," "Call of the Wild," "Big Little Lies" and "9-1-1."

Her grandfather was a well-known orthopedist in town, and her father was a Neurologist.

Her grandparents had a 40-foot-ish sports fishing boat named Roweboat, and in the ’70s they were active in the Marina Yacht Club of Long Beach. According to 95-year-old Ruth Blair, four boats left Alamitos Bay as a group on a course to Avalon. Normally, they would leave first thing in the morning. But to get an early start on festivities, they left in the early evening.

Pat and Pete Hodges, on board Shamrock, didn’t like the heavy seas, so they turned back. Harry Dawson, on Soots Us, got the itch to hot rod a bit, so that left the Blairs — Frank, Ruth and Bob on Sweettooth —  along with John and Grace on Roweboat.

John Rowe went below deck to check on things, and he discovered yjsy just below the vessel’s floor boards was completely flooded. They quickly abandoned ship on to their dinghy and were rescued by the Blairs. The fiberglass boat quickly sunk. It was a sad night — and a major loss. Despite everything, the intrepid five continued to Avalon and had dinner safely ashore.

It appears remaining calm under severe stress has been a Rowe family trait for generations. Thanks to Hank Wise and Dr. Scott Brunner for suggesting I write about Naples Neighborhood Watch chairman extraordinaire Katie Rowe. Email me at Jo@JoVenture.com with your suggestions.

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