Matt Moseley, the “Uniquely Joyful” Long Distance Swimmer Attempts a Caribbean Crossing

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Matt Mosely and Coach Randy celebrate a swim from Culebra Island to Fajardo, Puerto Rico in 2015

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Matt Moseley, a 50-year-old father of two, likes to tackle audacious long-distance swims — the kind no one has ever attempted. In 2014, he became the first to swim 25 miles non-stop across Lake Pontchartrain; in 2015 he made the first ocean crossing between Culebra and Fajardo, Puerto Rico; later that year year he swam nonstop for 47-miles along the Colorado River to the confluence of the Green River. Now, Moseley is attempting another swimming feat that, we’re guessing, no one thought to try before — 50 miles in less than three days, from St. John to St. Thomas (~4 miles), then from St. Thomas to Cayo Yayi, Vieques (~24 miles), and finally from Punta Arenas, Vieques to Puerto del Rey, Puerto Rico (~16 miles). Only one man — Harry Hauk, in 1982 — has ever swum from St. Thomas to Puerto Rico, and he quite sanely stopped there. Moseley will be swimming cage-free throughout the attempt.

This is not your average serious-minded record attempt. Moseley calls his swims “moveable festivals” that bring along musician, artists, scientists to follow him on his swim and bring awareness to the many clean water-focused causes he stands behind. For this one, the aim is to bring awareness to the organizations that work to protect the oceans from the growing prevalence of plastic debris like Inland Ocean Coalition. 5 Gyres Institute‘s science program director, Carolynn Box, will be on board for the duration of the event to take water samples to test for microplastics. Thanks to San Juan based Scuba Dogs, another water protection and education group, Moseley’s team will partner with the Boys and Girls Club of Vieques for a beach clean-up.

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That’s not to say the swim itself isn’t serious. Moseley will be baking under the rays of the equatorial sun while swimming hours in three to six foot waves above 500 feet of water — the home of hammerhead sharks, jellyfish, and other potentially unwelcoming creatures. The second and third swims will be begin in the middle of the night. Depending on the currents, the 24 mile swim to Vieques could take 13 hours or turn into a 16 hour swim of 30 miles. As his coach Randy Soler aptly puts it, “if there’s no drama, there’s no swim.”

All of Moseley’s sanctioned swims strictly follow WOWSA’s regulations. Swimmers can’t wear a wetsuit, must start from a shore and end on a shore, and can’t use any flotation devices or human assistance. This Caribbean crossing will be monitored and recorded by Moseley’s mental preparation coach (a former fighter pilot). The executive director of WOWSA, Steve Munatones, said of Moseley: “There is one contemporary swimmer who stands out for his uniquely joyful approach to the sport. Matthew Moseley combines the physical toughness of an endurance athlete with the right-brain creativity of an artist.”

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We’ll be following Moseley all week as he and his 12 person crew take their floating festival out to the Atlantic. Check back in to for updates.

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