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How to actually swim Across the Atlantic Ocean

Posted Feb 11 2009 2:40pm


Jennifer Figge did not really swim across the Atlantic Ocean.

There we said it.

That does not mean that the 56-year-old Aspen resident did not accomplish an incredible feet of endurance.

She did!

And better yet she used the publicity that her swim generated for a worth cause: The Volvic' s "Drink 1, Give 10" program to benefit UNICEF--a "water for water" campaign that provides clean water to children in Ethiopia.

The problem is that the Rocky Mountain News and other newspapers did the math and reported that:

"If she had (swum across the entire Atlantic Ocean per the earlier reports), she would have swum faster than Michael Phelps — pre-bong — hour after hour, day after day.

The 56-year-old Aspen resident started in Cape Verde off the coast of Africa and arrived at Trinidad, off the coast of Venezuela 24 days later, on Thursday, a distance of some 2,700 miles.

At that rate, she would have had to swim about 112 miles a day."

The newspaper also did the math for the last Frenchmen to claim that he swam across the Atlantic and it also did not add up:

"For that matter, Benoit Lecomte, the French long-distance swimmer who in 1998 was credited with being the first to swim across the Atlantic Ocean, did nothing of the sort. He traveled 3,716 miles between Cape Cod and Brittany, France, in 73 days, including a weeklong rest in the Azores.

To actually swim the 3,716 miles, he would have had to average slightly better than eight miles an hour. That' s equivalent to swimming a mile in 71/2 minutes, or about half the time of the current world record for swimming a mile."


The issue was best summoned up by David Higden, Figge' s manager when he said, and while she wasn' t swimming, in the middle of the ocean, a boat can' t drop anchor, so the boat continued westward during the hours she was aboard.

As it turns out Figge only swam about eight hours per day, and some days she didn' t swim at all because the weather and water conditions were deemed too dangerous.

So the problem is that unlike swimming across the English Channel, an Atlantic Ocean crossing involves many weeks, and a swimmer can' t swim that long without getting into the boat to rest, eat, and recover.

Under the strict rules of open water swimming that govern most marathon swims like the famous English Channel crossing a swimmer is never allowed to touch the boat, wear a wetsuit, or touch the bottom.

Obviously the two swimmers who swam across the Atlantic ocean did not do so under strict open water swimming rules.

But somebody could swim across the ocean, and do it the entire way. It would simply mean that their support boat would have to leave leave a GPS crumb every time they got into the boat.

In other words, just mark the GPS location where the swimmer finished at the end of the day' s swim, and return to that exact same point the next morning, day, night or whenever the weather improves enough to continue.

This way a truly motivated and talented endurance swimmer could rightfully claim to have swum the entire way across the Atlantic.

Any takers?

We bet that the Guinness World Book of Records would even sanction such an attempt as long as it could be verified.

And....we' ll be happy to cover and even promote your records setting attempt.

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