Breed discovered her love for the water at the age of 4 and started swimming year-round at 9 years old.
After swimming and graduating from Amador Valley High School in Pleasanton, Breed joined the swim team for UC Berkeley. During her college career, her team won two NCAA Championships.
"CAL taught me to be tough and have grit," said Breed.
Since then, Breed has broken four open water swimming records.
On September 21st in fifty-eight degree waters, Breed started her swim from Seabright Beach in Santa Cruz. "I started my swim at 9 P.M. to avoid the wind and that is the biggest concern with Monterey Bay," said Breed. "Getting into open water, it's cold, there's animals in there and I just remember jumping in and feeling the sense of freedom."
This East Bay marathon swimmer 🌊🏊🏼♀️🌊 is breaking records. In 12:42:14 and 55 jellyfish stings, Catherine Breed has completed the fastest swim across Monterey Bay. pic.twitter.com/CCzamXF4F8— ABC7 Melissa Pixcar (@MelissaABC7) October 7, 2020
A thick fog rolled in obstructing her view of the night sky.
"I lost all my senses. The fog was so thick, I couldn't tell the difference between the water and the sky," said Breed. "I could see the outline of the boat and a few of it's lights and that was about all I saw for eight or nine hours."
Her biggest challenge was swimming in darkness for a long period of time and being stung in the face by jellyfish. In total, she was stung fifty-five times.
During her swim, Breed was accompanied by her crew of supporters and other open water marathon swimmers, Kim Rutherford and Amy Gubser, who have braved the solo swim across Monterey Bay before. Their expert advise helped Breed get through the Monterey Bay canyon. The underwater canyon causes a drop in water temperature and turbidity currents. "They gave me confidence," said Breed. "The advice they gave me was to trust myself, to relax and go into this and have fun."
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In the canyon, she started to feel mentally and physically exhausted but overall she was proud of herself for attempting the chance to achieve the record.
"You know when I felt myself slowing down, I would just dug in deeper. I wanted to see if it was possible," said Breed. "As well, I know I could use this to raise awareness for diversity in aquatics which is something that myself and others are really working on right now."
Breed dedicated this swim to raising awareness and funds for Diversity in Aquatics. An organization to promote water safety, education and drowning prevention for minority groups.
"In the aftermath of George Floyd, I did some self-reflection that I need to be a better steward for this sport," said Breed. "In doing this swim, I just hope it inspires other people to get in the water and just try it out."
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Breed was feeling a relieved once she felt the kelp beneath her.
"I didn't see the shore until I had about 500 yards to go," said Breed. "It was a relief that I was done and I worked so hard. Getting the record was the cherry on top but it wasn't the goal. The goal was to finish. The highlight was the journey."
Upon her completion, Breed is the fifth woman to complete a solo swim across the Monterey in record time.
To follow Catherine Breed's journey, visit her blog Beyond the Blackline.