Former Navy SEAL Completes Marathon Swim From San Clemente Island to Catalina

A disabled former Navy SEAL accomplished something no one has done before: a strenuous swim between two local islands.

Dave Loeffler is used to challenges, hardships, and sacrifice. He spent four years as a member of the elite SEAL Team 4 in Virginia before being sidelined by a debilitating knee injury.

At the age of 53, Loeffler embarked on what could possibly be his most challenging adventure yet. He became the first person ever to swim the 21 1/2-mile channel between San Clemente Island and Catalina.

Dave's feat wasn't just a matter of personal accomplishment; he's raising money the Jimmy Miller Foundation, which hosts ocean therapy programs for veterans struggling with PTSD and other mental and physical challenges.

Dave's escort boat and support team departed from Redondo Beach's King Harbor Monday morning and began the journey to San Clemente Island, about 40 miles off the coast.

At about 10 p.m. Monday, Dave slipped into the dark waters to begin his grueling swim.

"A lot of times I'm, you know, kind of trying to zone out and meditate a little bit," Dave said.

At first light Tuesday, after nine hours of swimming, Catalina came into sight and Dave's spirit soared.

"I like to tell people too, live your dreams," Dave said.

With a renewed push to finish, after more than 15 punishing hours and 25 miles of water behind him, an exhausted Dave Loeffler reached his destination -- the rugged backside of Catalina.

"Now that we've had a successful swim, maybe people will be inspired and give for disabled vets," he said. "Everybody knows a veteran, you know. This is a way to thank them."

Dave's impressive feat is a similar distance to swimming the English Channel.

Money raised will go to benefit the Jimmy Miller Foundation.

Dave thanked his support crew, calling endurance swimming a "team sport." Now, he's looking forward to some much-deserved rest.