Jennifer Figge’s endurance achievement crossing the Atlantic seems to have prompted a maths debate.
According to reporters doing the sums, if the 56 year old Aspen resident “.. 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”.
Figge 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 issue was best summed up by David Higden, Figge’s manager when he said that 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, but 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.
For someone to swim across the ocean, their support boat would have to leave leave a GPS crumb every time they got into the boat, mark the GPS location where the swimmer finished at the end of the day’s swim, and then returni to that exact same point the next morning, day, night or whenever the weather improves enough to continue.