Exhaust. Proceed. Cultivate: Jim Bell Swims to Aguingan

June 2, 2009 by  
Filed under Special Forces


Jim Bell to explore Aguingan waters on his 71st birthday

 By Moneth Deposa

James H. Bell, who made history by swimming non-stop between the strait of Saipan and Tinian several times in the past, will explore a new adventure next week when he celebrates his 71st birthday.

This time, he will be swimming to the island of Aguingan Island. As an added challenge, he intends to swim around the island, with the bird sanctuary promontory as his final destination for the day.

Last year, Bell celebrated his birthday by swimming from Tinian to Saipan, taking him less than five hours to reach the shore of the Coral Ocean Point Resort in Koblerville.

Bell is turning 71 on June 9.

He is scheduled to start his swim at 8am by crossing the five-mile distance between Tinian and Aguingan island. Once there, he will swim the 6.6-mile shoreline hugging the island as well as the nearby 1.2 mile bird sanctuary.

As in the past, Bell will have no escort and no advanced knowledge of the tides and surf.

For him, there’s no better way to celebrate the occasion than to go back to the waters to explore new things and places.

“I’ve never been there and I am excited to find out more about it [Aguingan] for the first time,” he said.

Nature, he added, always made his crossing a little easier. He said he’s always prepared to swim against a strong east-to-west current.

Even jellyfish and the threat of sharks are nothing but a mild annoyance for this man.

It was in July 1981 when Bell marked his retirement from the U.S. Navy by swimming alone from Saipan to Tinian.

He also spent most Saturdays of 1980 swimming around the island of Guam’s 120-mile shoreline.

Next week’s water adventure will mark Bell’s fourth time to swim the Marianas’ waters.

On his June 9 adventure, Bell will be equipped with waterproof cellular phone and an emergency position indicating radio beacon, EPIRB, to assure the community of his safety on the waters.

Through EPIRB, he can send a signal to the nearest Coast Guard station to notify them of his whereabouts and his condition.

On Oct. 4, 2008, a Saturday Bell swam from Saipan to Tinian but the five-hour swim turned into a 24-hour ordeal after he was swept out to the ocean. The Department of Public Safety and the U.S. Coast Guard joined forces to look for him and spotted him Sunday still swimming inside of the east Tinian beach line. He refused their offer of assistance and finished the swim.




One Comment on "Exhaust. Proceed. Cultivate: Jim Bell Swims to Aguingan"

  1. Jack on Tue, 12th Jul 2016 10:45 am 

    I remember reading about him being lost in the ocean somewhere in the Marianas and was never found. Any update on that. Is he still alive?

    I give him credit for his adventures. It reminnds me of our crazy swimming adventures when we jump off a boat at night and swan to Anatahan to hunt coconut crabs. Other adventures include diving outside Managaha Island and our boat was gone; so we had to swim to Managaha and the waves were huge and the current was strong. John Camacho, John Pan Guerrero, Ben Concepcion, Sabino Tian and others in our group talked about it and just laughed. We were happy we survived.

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