two swimming stories

From the sport of swimming:

The other day I came across two interesting stories from the endurance sport of swimming:
I give a shortened version of the first here:

updated 8:47 p.m. ET Feb. 12, 2009
SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico – A U.S. swimmer crossed the Atlantic Ocean this month — but did she swim “across” the ocean?
Common sense dictates that Jennifer Figge, a 56-year-old endurance athlete, can’t claim to have swum from the Cape Verde Islands to the Caribbean island of Trinidad, a journey of about 2,500 miles, in 24 days.
It would be impossible for any human to swim the Atlantic without stopping. No boat can drop anchor in the middle of deepwater currents. Holding onto a fixed position each time a swimmer climbs onboard to rest would require an ocean of fuel.
The Associated Press had reported that Figge, of Aspen, Colo., swam 19 of the 24 days, and that she spent between 21 minutes and eight hours a day in the water, depending on conditions. The AP also repeated the claim of her representatives, who said she was “the first woman, and first American, to swim across the Atlantic Ocean.”
Subsequently, after accounts of Figge’s effort were questioned, her spokesman David Higdon acknowledged she probably swam about 250 miles of the whole journey.
Figge’s team had inquired about what it would take to qualify for the Guinness World Records, but decided the requirements were too difficult to comply with. “Honestly, we look at all the forms and requirements and Jennifer said, `This isn’t what the swim is about. Forget about it,'” Higdon said”

The second article is about two Cape Townians Ram Barkai and Andrew Chin: I have felt their fear. I appreciate their honesty. They recorded exactly what they did. See below:

“Taking It To The Extreme — February 7, 2009
Each gulp of air was icy and painful.
By Steven Munatones, Swimming World Open Water Correspondent LOS ANGELES, California, February 7. 39°F (4°C) water temperature, 32°F (0°C) air temperature with a 19°F (-7°C) wind chill due to a wind. Those conditions adequately define extreme swimming. Ram Barkai, 51, and Andrew Chin, 40, both from Cape Town, South Africa, swam 1.3K and 2K respectively in Lake Zurich in mid-winter following standard English Channel rules (i.e., no wetsuits or suits below the knee or covering the arms*).
Chin said he had planned ahead of the swim to cover one kilometer, while Barkai aimed for two. Local physician Dr. Beat Knechtle who oversaw the swim, added: “No one has ever swum these distances in the lake in winter before.” Chin said, “Within minutes of diving into the lake, I lost feeling in my hands and feet. In fact, I was completely numb by the time I decided to stop swimming.” In order to take his mind off the pain during his swim, Chin repeated his wife and children’s names in his head while swimming. “When I started battling to say their names, I knew it was time to get out. All I remember is the support team dragging me into a boat and covering me in blankets.” Barkai, who joined Lynne Cox and Lewis Gordon Pugh as the only individuals to swim a significant distance (1K) in Antarctica, said he had decided to continue when Chin got into the boat despite being painfully cold. “The last 500 meters were very hard. I was breathing into a headwind of -7°C (19°C) so each gulp of air was icy and painful. I tried to close my hands into fists, but couldn’t. They were frozen stiff.” Towards the end of his 2K swim, a police diver in one of the four support boats jumped into the lake and swam alongside Barkai fearing the worst. “I really wanted to finish the swim, but was struggling. I kept my eyes locked on the team doctor each time I breathed and knew if he wasn’t worried about me, then I was okay.” Barkai started hyperventilating after finishing his swim, but with support from the doctor he brought his breathing back to normal. “It was only after 30 minutes in a hot shower that I started recovering. I don’t remember anything at the end, except that I was dragged out of the water. I couldn’t stand.” Despite having swum the furthest south of any human on record, Barkai said, “The wind chill factor had made this definitely the hardest swim I have ever done.””
From: http://www.swimmingworldmagazine.com/lane9/news/20222.asp

Bottom line: I don’t care what you do. Just be honest about it and don’t claim stuff that you did not do. I salute Ram and Andrew on their achievement, their honesty and guts to push the envelope for themselves!

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