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Press Release: U.S. women set to swim across Atlantic

Posted Jan 07 2009 2:51pm

Jen January 7, 2009; Cape Verde Islands—U.S. swimmer Jennifer Figge will depart later this week from Cape Verde Islands off the coast of Africa in her attempt to become the first woman, and first American, to swim across the Atlantic Ocean. Figge announced today from Sao Vicente in Cape Verde that her historic odyssey will support Volvic’s “Drink 1, Give 10” campaign, a program that provides funding to enable UNICEF to supply clean water for children in Ethiopia.

The 56-year-old mother of a race car driver plans to swim six to eight hours a day within a 20-by-13-foot cage custom-designed to protect her from sharks and other predators. When Figge’s not swimming, the engines on her support boat, Carried Away, will be turned off and the catamaran will drift toward its ultimate destination, the Barbados. Carried Away arrived today in the Cape Verde Islands from the Canary Islands, where it had been shipped last month on a freighter.

“They say a message in a bottle takes 60 days to cross the Atlantic Ocean,” says Figge, who lives in Aspen, Colorado. “I hope to move a bit faster.”

Figge’s first endurance challenge was a 12-day run in 1989 across Iowa, where she was born and raised. Her son Alex’s third-grade class charted her course by moving pushpins across a map. Today, followers can monitor Figge through a tracking device found via her Facebook page, where she’s chronicling the adventure:

“In my life, I haven’t really had many challenges, so I challenge myself,” Figge says. “I feed off the inspiration of people who have had real challenges. My father died of throat cancer. My uncle was an amputee. I had a cousin critically burned in a plane crash. Those people keep me going.”

SWIM TO SUPPORT U.S. FUND FOR UNICEF Figge announced today that her swim would support Volvic’s “Drink 1, Give 10” campaign, a program that provides funding to enable UNICEF to supply clean water to children in Ethiopia. Fans and followers are encouraged to support Figge through direct donations to the U.S. Fund for UNICEF via Jennifer’s Facebook page or directly from the “Drink 1, Give 10” campaign web site at

The funds raised through Volvic’s “Drink 1, Give 10” campaign will support UNICEF water projects in two districts of the Benishangul-Gumuz region of western Ethiopia to help improve the health of community members by increasing access to sustainable water supply through the construction of water supply systems. Volvic already has pledged to donate $.40 to the U.S. Fund for UNICEF to benefit the “Drink 1, Give 10” program for every mile Jennifer swims.

A host of sponsors and partners are providing support for Figge and crew, including Speedo (, XTERRA WETSUITS (, AdvoCare (, Vertra Elemental Resistance (, Elete Electrolyte (, Celsius (, Aqua Symphony (, Dorcy International (, Navimo (, Indel Webasto Marine USA (, (, Altmount ( and the International Swimming Hall of Fame (
“When it came time to giving our wetsuits the ultimate test, we chose the ultimate swimmer in Jennifer Figge,” said Glynn Turquand, XTERRA WETSUITS’ COO and wetsuit designer. “Our wetsuits are made with anatomically designed arms created to reduce shoulder fatigue common in other wetsuit designs. Jennifer will move her arms more than one million times during the swim, and XTERRA WETSUITS will be with her every stroke as a second skin.”
The International Swimming Hall of Fame provided Figge with mementos of Gertrude Ederle, the first woman to conquer the English Channel in 1926. Figge recently completed Gavin Mortimer’s book, “The Great Swim,” about the race to be the first woman to cross the Channel, and she plans to use the gifts as inspiration during the long journey. “Ederle was a true pioneer, the Queen of the Waves,” Figge says. “She was someone who has served as an inspiration to millions, including me.”

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