From left, Emily Kunze, Mauricio Prieto '90, and Susan Moody '94 swam across the Strait of Gibraltar July 11 and raised more than $106,000 for the nonprofit literacy group Worldreader. (Photo: Courtesy Mauricio Prieto)

The journey across the Strait of Gibraltar ranks among the great challenges of open-water swimming. Only about 600 people have made the 11-mile swim through the swift Atlantic and Mediterranean waters separating Spain and Morocco. Earlier this month, the husband-and-wife duo of Mauricio Prieto ’90 and Susan Moody ’94 joined that elite club, along with friend and fellow swimmer Emily Kunze, a 1996 Kenyon College graduate. In the process, they raised more than $106,000 for Worldreader, a nonprofit founded by David Risher ’87 to promote literacy in Africa by distributing e-readers and digital books. 

Prieto, a devoted swimmer for the last 25 years, has an affinity for the unpredictable obstacles of open-water swimming. Moody, on the other hand, had given up competitive swimming after a successful career at Princeton, where she was co-captain of the Tigers’ 1994 Ivy League championship team. When Prieto first proposed the idea of the Gibraltar swim, Moody said, “It seemed crazy — it seemed not even humanly possible.” After a year of training, it still felt a little scary, but also well within the realm of possibility, she said.

Prieto, Moody, and Kunze made their attempt after the morning fog cleared on July 11. Facing a strong headwind, they passed dolphins and commercial ships on their journey from shore to shore, reaching the Moroccan coast after four hours and 51 minutes in the water.

A friend who followed the team by boat updated the group’s progress using an online GPS tracker. But Moody wasn’t aware of how large the group of fans had been until she got back to Spain. “We looked at our cell phones and it was like 155 missed calls and on Facebook, 200 comments,” she said. “When we started to communicate with our friends and family and followers — total strangers who were following the swim — it sort of hit us that we had done it successfully.”

On the fundraising front, Worldreader was a natural beneficiary: Moody works as the organization’s director of marketing and communications, and Kunze has been a volunteer. Moody also saw some symbolism in the geography of the swimming challenge. The trio was simultaneously swimming to Africa and raising money to bring books to Africa.

Prieto hopes to extend the “Swim 4 Good” platform to enable other swimmers to pursue challenging swims and raise money for social entrepreneurship. “The fact that we were swimming in order to improve the future of so many kids was a powerful ingredient,” he said.

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