Mike Spalding's swimming credentials were already impressive, but last week he was able to accomplish one of his few remaining goals - the 65-year-old Maui Realtor was part of a relay team that swam across the English Channel twice, once in each direction.
"It's a great sense of accomplishment," Spalding said. "I always felt that it was one of those unattainable goals until I set my mind to doing it. It helped that I had five other friends that wanted to do it with me so the relay made it a much more pleasant experience."
The rest of the group, which completed the 62-mile trek in 24 hours and two minutes, finishing at 12:02 a.m. on Aug. 6, comprised 64-year-old Randy Brown, Spalding's high school roommate when they attended Hawaii Preparatory Academy, and four swimmers from the Bay Area - 54-year-old Joel Swartz, 49-year-old Gabor Lengyel, 21-year-old Genevieve Swartz and 18-year-old Miya Oto. Each swimmer completed four one-hour legs.
The distance wasn't the only trial the group had to overcome, or even the most formidable. Tougher to deal with was the water temperature, which averaged 60 degrees.
"It was in a category by itself because it's a cold-water swim and that in itself is a big challenge," Spalding said.
Preparation began a year ago. The swimmers had to register with the English Channel Swimming and Piloting Federation, find a boat pilot registered with the federation, undergo medical examinations and do a two-hour swim in water no warmer than 61 degrees.
Brown introduced the rest of the swimmers to Spalding, who was not fazed by the fact that his teammates lived across the ocean, flying to California in order to practice with them.
"Everybody was 100 percent committed. We're like a family," Spalding said. "Once we decided we were going to do it, there were no obstacles. Everybody was fully onboard, locked and loaded and ready."
Spalding has shown his commitment to swimming before. In March of 2011 he crossed the 32-mile Alenuihaha Channel between the Big Island and Maui, making him only the second person to swim across all nine channels of the main Hawaiian Islands.
He first made the Alenuihaha attempt two years earlier, but had to stop after being bit by a cookie-cutter shark.
Spalding said that aside from the temperature, the English Channel was less challenging than some of the other waters he has taken on.
"The channels that I've swum in Hawaii solo were way more difficult, physically and environmentally," he said, because of Hawaii's sealife and rough currents.
His latest achievement, however, holds a special place.
"The English Channel is one of the most incredible experiences to accomplish in the swimming world," Spalding said.
Spalding has yet to decide what his next challenge will be, but did make a promise.
"I've got a lot more swims in me," he said.