Redding honors local swimmer after world record swim

Redding honors local swimmer after world record swim

REDDING, Calif. - Swimming can be tough. Back and forth in the pool can be exhausting.

To imagine doing that in the open water, in freezing temperatures, can be an unbearable thought.

Redding teen Hunter Wright has turned that daunting task into a world record breaking feat.

Wright, 17, is the youngest swimmer to complete the Strait of Magellan swim in Chile, South America. He is getting worldwide recognition and is being honored at home.

But it was not an easy task, by any stretch of the imagination.  There is a reason it is one of the world's hardest swims. It comes with a few challenges.

"I could tell that I was getting pushed off course," Wright told KRCR. "It didn't really occur to me at the time how far off course I was getting pushed."

Wright sat down with KRCR News Channel 7 for one of his first English-speaking interviews since completing the swim in mid-January.

The teen threw on his swim cap and broke a world record. It was one hour and 54 minutes of non-stop endurance.

What should have been 2.5 miles was more like 5.5, according to Wright, as the rough January water conditions changed things.

"Two hours is a long time but it was such a quick moment for me that it kind of didn't really seem that I was going off course that far," Wright said. "But once I touched the shore it was just like a big sigh of relief."

A joyous but exhausted moment as he exited the water.

"Everything went blank from there," said Wright. "I don't remember the boat ride back or anything. I just remember getting back on shore and I was like, whoa! How did I get here?"

Wright has been praised beyond his wildest dreams at home in Redding. A proclamation to recognize the feat came Tuesday at the Redding city council meeting.

"We're here to proclaim that this Saturday, February 8th, in the city of Redding is going to be Hunter Wright Day," said Mayor Rick Bosetti.

"I can't believe that the community has honored me in such a big way. To me, the swim it just feels like another swim," Wright said.

But it is not. Wright is just the 21st person to have completed it, and sixth from the United States to do so. He is just the tenth person to swim the Strait of Magellan without a wetsuit.

"The wetsuit feels a little constricting to me," said Wright. "But at the same time it does save a lot for warmth. It's more of a survival kind of thing. It makes me feel like I've accomplished something more."

He certainly has. It is an accomplishment worthy of the recognition.

"At first it's a little overwhelming. But you kind of just take it in," Wright said. "I love it. It's a great feeling to know that I accomplished something and that I'm getting all this respect for it."

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