Taylor Hurt: Odyssey Swimmer/Kayaker Profile
“I started paddling for swimmers almost by accident...I get rewarded in so many ways in this pursuit, I feel blessed.” -- Taylor Hurt, Odyssey Open Water Swimming Head Kayaker
What started as an accident has turned into a calling for Taylor Hurt. After answering a Craigslist ad for a group in need of kayak assistance during a swim, Taylor began to learn the “peculiar tides” of the San Francisco Bay while participating in a steady stream of events. “As my kayaking began to improve, I acquired some technical training in surf zone level 3 with some local instructors, and saw the potential to up my game as a kayaker by providing safety for swimmers. I recently added to that a lifeguard certification,” says Taylor, a friendly and humble kayaker.
You may have seen Taylor kayaking around the Bay. He’s been escorting swimmers for the past 18 years and averages well over 100 events each year with several leading organizations in the area. “That's a lot of miles on the paddle, but I'm still in love with it,” says Taylor.
Taylor leads kayak briefings and escorting swimmers in a wide variety of events. Asked about his job on the day of a swim, Taylor explains:
“We generally meet on the beach prior to launching for a group briefing, radio check, job descriptions, allocations and then we launch and regroup near the swim boat as it approaches the jump spot where the swimmers will enter the water. Detailed safety briefings before any event are tailored by tides and the conditions that day. We focus on the swimmers and any potential threats.”
We’re very lucky to have Taylor on our team here at Odyssey Open Water Swimming. We recently talked to Taylor about his passion for kayaking alongside swimmers, how he met Warren from Odyssey Open Water, what he has yet to accomplish, and more.
Taylor met Odyssey’s Warren Wallace through a mutual friend, Stephan Mueller.
“As a new man on the SF swim scene, Warren had openings and room to advance into his organization that suited my expertise. We forged a partnership to grow an East Bay swim club at the Berkeley marina, and do all the classic bay area swims, under the Golden Gate, Alcatraz, Angel Island, Bridge to Bridge, etc..`We hit it off and I was able to fill in as he and his wife had their first child.”
Reflecting on his most memorable swims, Taylor says they include:
Hearing the laughter of the eight-year-old girl who became the youngest to make the Alcatraz swimming. “It still raises the hair on my neck and makes me smile,” says Taylor.
Kayaking next to organ transplant recipients who swam the swimming leg of the Escape. Participants championed the motto, “never stop.”
A night swim in Tahoe on a moonless night during the Perseid meteor shower.
A moonless night swim in Monterey Bay miles from shore with a single swimmer. “The only sound was the swimmer’s splash, it was terrifying,” says Taylor.
After completing thousands of swims, Taylor has his eyes set on taking his swim escorting international. “Channel swimmers have many options globally with beautiful destinations abounding, the Galapagos and Cuba are recent entrants to the prospects...I'm open to new ideas and new tricks,” states Taylor.
Odyssey also has new events planned for this year that Taylor will be a part of, including the Splash & Dash race on June 8. To come out and swim with us and meet Taylor, sign up for one of our upcoming Berkeley swims.