Crossing for Cystic Fibrosis with Casey Kiernan

    A week after Casey Kiernan Stand Up Paddled 80 miles from Bimini Bahamas to Lake Worth, Florida team manager Jason Wilson caught up with her to find out more about this insane accomplishment! 

    J: Tell me about the event you just did:

    C: I just stand up paddle boarded 80 miles from Bimini, Bahamas to Lake Worth, Florida for The Crossing For Cystic Fibrosis. This is Piper's Angels Foundation's flagship fundraising event to not only raise awareness for this terminal disease, but to raise money to fund various programs that help support the overall well-being for those affected by Cystic Fibrosis. 

    I am so stoked to say that I raised over A$6,685 and I won the Solo Women's Division, AND I came in first place over all of the Solo Men's Division too.  It took me 13 hours, 18 minutes, and 24 seconds to complete the paddle which was over 9 minutes faster than the first man to finish. 

    J: What made you pursue this?

    C: In late 2019 I started a new Dietitian job at the local Cystic Fibrosis clinic. Right away I learned about the local non-profit called Piper's Angels Foundation, their mission to help support those affected by CF, and the fact that ocean-based activities improve the lung function of those with CF. My connection with surfing and skimming, along with my new job made me realize I am destined to be part of this. I then learned about The Crossing For Cystic Fibrosis and signed up right away, bought a paddleboard, and started learning. 

    J: How much preparation and training did it take?

    C: I've been paddling now for just over a year and a half. Last year I started doing races, which helped me become a stronger, faster paddler, but my first day of focused training for this event was on January 1st of this year to give myself a solid 6 months of training. My training consisted of various paddles of races 3-5 miles, SUP surfing 3-6 miles, and endurance paddles 16-35 miles. I did a lot of cross training at the gym 4-5 days/week to help improve my strength and cardio as well. Other than that, I came up with a focus nutrition plan which played a huge factor with my performance. 

    J: How far did you paddle straight before breaks?

    C: So prior to The Crossing, I planned out my breaks, keeping in mind avoiding mental/physical burn out, adequate hydration and nutrition, but also keeping in mind the time frame. I figured 3-4 minute breaks every 90 minutes would keep me on track by giving me enough time to quickly eat food, reapply sunscreen, and stretch, all while saving additional time that could have potentially affected my overall ranking. 

    J: What did it feel like?

    C: OMG, to be honest it was one of the most fun paddles I've ever done. It was insane with 4-6ft windswell and cross chop, 20mph+ winds, no land in sight. I've had so much balance training between skimming and SUP surfing that I was right in my element with those conditions. I didn't get fatigued or bored- surprisingly. That's what I thought my biggest obstacle would be. And then that feeling of running through the finish line, ringing the bell, getting congratulated and cheered on by the hundreds of people on shore, then realizing I won first place overall... I'm still on Cloud 9. I felt accomplished, proud, and extremely happy. 

    J: Who was your support team and sponsors?

    C: My support team consisted of my boyfriend Chris McCullough who watched me every minute of the paddle, letting the captain know if I fell, If the boat needs to slow down or go faster, and to prepare and handoff my hydration and nutrition during my breaks, as well as encouraging me the whole way. 

    My Captain, Tim Sargent kept my spirits high with his awesome and fun energy, believed in me to win the whole time, and led the best line for us to get back safely and quickly. 

    My filmer and long time friend, Dan Ortman, weathered the seasickness to take videos and photos to document my whole journey before, during, and after and is putting together a documentary short film. This guy has believed in my story and potential so that means so much to me. 

    Sean Sargent is my Captain's nephew and Dan's best friend. He came along to help film, have fun, and be moral support for us all. 

    My Captain's son, Luke Sargent came along too. His stoke when I'd roll through a 6ft set in the middle of the Gulf Stream really got me pumped up which helped carry me through the whole paddle.

    My sponsors for this event were ZAP Skimboards, Twisted Tuna, and my Captain Tim Sargent. If it wasn't for each of them believing in me to help support a good cause, this wouldn't have been as stress free and easy as it was. Because of my sponsorships I was able to get all of the gear, first aid, nutrition, hydration, lodging, fuel, Bahamas fees, customs, travel, event entry, and everything else I needed to make sure I was prepared for this event. 

    J: What next?

    C: Haha... I've been getting that a lot! I didn't think there was much after skimboarding, but opportunities arose as my life progressed and I just kept saying yes to whatever came my way. So I'll just focus on pursuing the things that bring me joy, share love, and work toward a good cause, then whatever is next will present itself. I can't wait to see what that's gonna be. But forsure, I'm still going to try and claim another Women's Pro UST title this year and get faster with paddling.


    J: Any skim comps this summer?

    C: Yes, I can't wait! I'll definitely be making it to the RDS Vilano contest, Exile's Oktoberfest, and any other contests I can make it to that are in Florida. 

    J: Closing words/anything else to share?

    C: Go for it! Over the past 2 years, I've gone through a whole lot of change between jobs, hobbies, friends, goals, health, and aspirations. Be yourself and always pursue the things that make you happy and make the world a better place. Sometimes, you have to be very patient for everything to come around and fall in its place, but when you say yes to the opportunities that arise, you find new life. For this life past, present, and future, I thank everyone who has believed in me, encouraged me, and supported me. You are all my driving force. Big love!

    Photos: David Scarola

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