Ask About the Jellyfish

It’s bound to happen, just given the odds. This year’s class of legislative freshmen is the largest since 1966 when the Supreme Court’s one-man, one-vote ruling changed how state lawmakers were elected. One-third of the 120 members of the Legislature are new.

Given that volume – and California’s unique diversity – there must be some legislators with interesting backgrounds. There are. But only one is a member of the Half Century Club.

images-1There are 64 members of the club, which is comprised of individuals 50-years-of-age or older who have swam the English Channel and other marathons. Assemblyman Mark Stone, a Santa Cruz Democrat, did it at the age of 52 on July 2009.

He left the shore at Dover at 2:57 in the afternoon, local time. Because of winds and currents, Stone swam 30 miles to make the 22-mile crossing.

It took 13 hours and 7 minutes, nearly 18 minutes better than  average for the 1,341 swimmers who have completed 1,801 solo swims, according to www.dover.uk.com. Of those solo swimmers, less than 20 percent are Americans.

Whether a fan of social media or not, Stone’s tweets from July 13, 2009 – presumably logged by some else — offer a compelling stroke-by-stroke account of his adventure:

“Has been swimming for 6 hours now. Sun is setting. There are jellyfish.”Unknown


“Finding swimming more difficult, Seas getting choppy. Wind coming up.”

Ten hours in:

“Is three miles from France. Seas have turned glassy again and the moon is trying to come out.”


“We can smell Calais. Newly turned soil and baking bread. But we’re still an hour away.”

How hard can moving a bill to the governor’s desk be in comparison?


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