Monday, June 11, 2001

Naked swimmer
to set off again
for Niihau

This time, he'll wear a suit, have
an escort boat and ask permission
to go ashore, he says

By Anthony Sommer
Kauai correspondent

LIHUE >> Matthew Davidson, the 27-year-old swimmer who was pulled naked from the water by a Navy helicopter Friday evening as he was attempting to swim from Kauai to Niihau, says he will try again tomorrow.

"This time I won't be naked, I will have a support boat and I'm planning to get permission from the Robinson Family (which owns Niihau) to go ashore," Davidson said. On Friday, Davidson carried only a water bottle.

Alerted Friday morning by Davidson's father in California that his son was attempting the 17-mile swim without a support boat, the U.S. Coast Guard spent 11 hours searching the Kualakahi Channel with a C-130 airplane, two helicopters and a rescue boat. Davidson's father told the Coast Guard his son is a strong swimmer and capable of swimming that distance.

A Navy helicopter from the Pacific Missile Range on Kauai that joined the search later in the day spotted Davidson 10 miles short of Niihau at about 5:15 p.m. A Navy rescue swimmer went into the water and eventually convinced Davidson to be picked up.

Navy officials said Davidson walked off the helicopter when it arrived at the missile range and appeared to be in good condition.

The Kualakahi Channel has been swum before, most recently last October by a Kauai medical doctor who had a support team accompanying him.

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