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North County Students Achieve Fourth World Record in Open-Ocean Swimming Between Two Italian Islands

DEL MAR, CALIF. – On Sunday, June 3, at approximately 7 p.m. local time, the “Zombie Patrol” swim team from Sea Change Preparatory in Del Mar completed a first-ever, record-setting swim between the islands of Ischia and Di Santo Stefano, located off the western coast of Italy in the Gulf of Naples. The swim was completed in 15 grueling hours by a team comprised of eight local students and school staff. The youngest swimmer was just 12 years old.

This was the fourth world-record-setting swim for the team and the first channel swim ever recorded between these two Italian islands. The team started from the dock at Ischia shortly after 4:00 a.m. and began the swim officially at shortly after 5:00 a.m. Each team member swam for one hour, with swimmers rotating until the course was completed. The team battled a persistent, adverse current for most of the journey, as well as jellyfish, although both the air and water temperatures were warm, and the seas were calm.

"I could not be prouder of the team, especially the first-time swimmers,” said Cheryl Allcock, Head of School and co-founder of Sea Change Prep. “This was a challenging swim and each team member did their part flawlessly."

The Zombies arrived in Ischia earlier in the week and followed their regular training regime for several days before the event, consisting of morning mindfulness mediation on the beach, followed by daily hour-long training swims in the deep blue sea off the Ischia coast.

"The meditation sessions centered on the students’ ability to overcome any feelings of self-doubt or fear, allowing them to successfully complete the task for which they have trained," said John Allcock, Director of Mindfulness and also a swim team member. “Our focus on mindfulness is quite empowering for the students, and it carries over into their lives in so many important ways. It’s much more than just a swim. It’s a life-changing event for these kids.”

The team was also accompanied by Coach Dan Simonelli, an accomplished ocean swimmer himself who has successfully completed a solo English Channel swim. Simonelli has been on all of the Zombie’s record-setting, first-ever swims, as well as on their relay swim of the English Channel in 2015.

"It’s always amazing to see how these young swimmers find it within themselves to push beyond what they thought was possible, both individually and collectively," said Simonelli. “That’s why the school’s mantra has become: ‘Actually, I can.’ These kids are incredible.”

The team is now enjoying some well-deserved rest–and sightseeing–in Rome and London before they return home to San Diego. In addition to swimming, global travel is a key part of the school’s approach to education. Next year's global trip (and swim) will be in the Greek Islands.

Sea Change Preparatory is a private, fully accredited micro-school located in Downtown Del Mar, Calif. Small by design, the school features a high-quality, individualized academic curriculum with an integrated mindfulness component, an inspired fitness program (centered around the world-class swimming), and top-quality music and fine arts, all delivered in a nurturing, collaborative environment.

Recent graduates have been accepted at Michigan, UC Berkeley, UC San Diego, UCLA, UC Davis, NYU Tisch Film school, Purdue (engineering), Colby College, Boston University, Ohio State University and many other highly acclaimed colleges and universities across the country.

To learn more or schedule a school tour, visit or call (858) 461-0953.

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