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Saturday, March 12, 2011
Penny Palfrey Keeps The Molokai Channel In The Family
Quickly gathering all their belongings and rushing out their rooms into their rental car, they took off quickly to higher ground. Unfamiliar with the island of Molokai, they followed a line of cars and eventually found themselves at Molokai High School gymnasium, one of the designated evacuation centers on the island. Unable to sleep on the bleachers, Penny was not happy with worry etched on her face.
Yet she remained focused on her goal of completing the Molokai Channel, a swim that her husband Chris held the record of 12 hours and 53 minutes.
The unknown and uncertainty reigned. Neither Penny nor Jim could predict what would happen over the next 24 hours - they stayed glued to the TV and radio news.
But they both kept faith that the swim would eventually come off and stood alert for any breaks or opportunities.
But dawn came and the tsunami warnings were still in effect. Penny had moved from trying to sleep on uncomfortable bleachers to resting in the back of her rental car. At 8 am, Penny and Chris tried to get to the wharf, but the police had blocked all roads and there was no possibility of getting down to the water's edge. Reluctantly, the team moved back to the evacuation center.
Penny, Chris and Jim talked and they decided to see if the restrictions would be lifted later in the day. But every minute they delayed the start, the weather continued to deteriorate. All the months of planning that had gone into picking the right time and place to start the swim had gone out the window. With no sleep and plans gone awry, it was remarkable how confident Penny still remained in her training and her team.
By 9 am, the authorities had lifted vehicular travel restrictions and granted access to the wharf. Penny and her crew raced down to the shoreline to witness the continued surge from the tsunamis that had broadsided all the islands of Japan. The energy stored up between the islands was evident wherever one looked upon the shoreline. Yet, despite these ominous signs, Penny and crew boarded Jim's Kihei Boy escort boat and drove full throttle to the start as Penny prepared on the rocking boat.
As they reached Laau Point on the westernmost point of Molokai Island with Oahu a full 26 miles away, the winds slapped them in the face and threw a relentless stream of whitecaps at them. For once, worry was finally etched on the veneer of Penny's face. But she applied layers and layers of sunscreen and lanolin to protect her face and went through her normal stretching regimen and preparations.
She was ready to take on Mother Nature come literally hell or high water.
At 10:54 am, Penny jumped in the water and took off at her controlled but furious 76 stroke per minute pace. Hour after hour, she maintained the quick pace and only occasionally commented that the conditions were less than ideal. "The water is kind of bumpy," she smiled with a twinkle in her eye during her feeding stops every thirty minutes.
She gave strict instructions to her crew - give me data - data that she needs to pace herself intelligently throughout the swim including how far she swam and how far she needs to go.
By the fifth hour, it was apparent that Penny was on record pace despite the less-than-ideal circumstances. "It was tough. I wanted to put in a big effort in the beginning so I could get away from [the Molokai] shore due to our late start. I guess I used up a fair bit of energy and I thought I would pay for it later, but I have done a lot of training. That last bit [of the swim] was hard getting into shore [on Oahu] with the full flood of the ebb tide."
Penny acknowledged the tough stretch of water was also incredibly gorgeous. "It was great out there. It was beautiful. I swam over a whale before my first feed. I first thought it was a whale shark, but I also saw the bottom so I figured that it could not possibly be [a whale shark.]. That was pretty amazing. I saw dolphins. I actually saw the fins."
Every 30 minutes she stopped, but every so briefly. First a banana-flavored drink on the first feeding stop, then a chocolate-flavored drink on the second, then coffee-flavored on the third. Over and over again, but the stops were nearly always under 10 seconds. Reach, drink, listen and go. Reach, drink, listen and go. She was making an incredibly difficult channel on a particularly tough day look easy.
"It was rough. The beginning was particularly tough. It never really settled down. It was hard work. I am satisfied. My crew was amazing; they worked hard. I knew everyone was tired after getting no sleep with the tsunami warning and asked to leave the hotel. It was a big effort from everybody."
Penny's big effort resulted in a record-setting swim of 11 hours 40 minutes and 33 seconds, more than an hour faster than her husband's previous record.
"Since first watching marathon swimmers from 1979, Penny Palfrey's swim was one of the gutiest swims I have ever had the privilege to witness," said observer Steven Munatones. "She made one of the toughest channels in the world - on a particularly rough day under extraordinarily unusual conditions after a sleepless night - look simple. Few others could have done that. She was amazing."
Different scenes from Penny's swim follow:
Copyright © 2011 by Open Water Source
2014 Global Open Water Swimming Conference
Courtesy of WOWSA, Huntington Beach, California.
CLICK HERE TO REGISTER FOR THE CONFERENCE
The Global Open Water Swimming Conference is a conference on the sport of open water swimming, marathon swimming and swimming during triathlons and multi-sport endurance events.
The conference which has been attended by enthusiasts and luminaries from 6 continents, is devoted to providing information about the latest trends, race tactics, training techniques, equipment, psychological preparation, race organization and safety practices used in the sports of open water swimming, marathon swimming and triathlons.
The conference's mission is to provide opportunities to listen and meet many of the world's most foremost experts in open water swimming, and to meet and discuss the sport among swimmers, coaches, administrators, event organizers, sponsors, vendors, officials, escort pilots, and volunteers from kayakers to safety personnel.
Dozens of presentations at the 2014 Conference at the Mount Stuart House cover numerous aspects of the vast and growing world of open water swimming where attendees can learn and share the latest trends, race tactics, training modalities, swimming techniques, equipment, race organization, logistics, operations, and safety practices for open water swimming as a solo swimmer, competitive athlete, fitness swimmer, masters swimmer, triathlete, multi-sport athlete, administrator, race promoter, sponsor or referee.
The conference was first held in Long Beach, California as part of the 2010 USA Swimming National Open Water Swimming Championships. It has since been held on the Queen Mary in California, at Columbia University and the United Nations in New York City, and in Cork, Ireland. This year in September, it comes to another iconic location, the Mount Stuart House on the Isle of Bute in Scotland.
"The Global Open Water Swimming Conference was started due to the desire and need for athletes, coaches, referees, administrators, race directors, promoters and sponsors from around the world to share, collect and learn information about the growing sports of open water swimming, marathon swimming and triathlons," said founder Steven Munatones. "Other swimming conferences usually offering nothing on open water swimming or perhaps a speech or two, but we thought open water swimming deserves its own global conference. It is great that the community shares its information via the online social network, but there is nothing like meeting other open water swimming enthusiasts face-to-face and talking about the sport from morning to night."
Speakers at the conference include English Channel swimmers, ice swimmers, record holders, renowned coaches, world champions, professional marathon swimmers, renowned race directors, officials and administrators from the Africa, Americas, Asia, Europe and Oceania.
"Because the audience is passionate and educated about the sport and its finest practitioners, the Global Open Water Swimming Conference is also the location of the induction ceremonies for the International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame and the annual WOWSA Awards that recognize the World Open Water Swimming Man of the Year, the World Open Water Swimming Woman of the Year, the World Open Water Swimming Performance of the Year, and the World Open Water Swimming Offering of the Year. Special Lifetime Achievement Awards are also occasionally presented to individuals who have made significant contributions to the sport over their career."
The 2014 Global Open Water Swimming Conference Programme
Wednesday, September 17th
Leave Glasgow to commence 2-day tour of Scotland [closest international airport is Glasgow]
Thursday, September 18th
Stay Mainland, North of Scotland
Friday, September 19th
14:00 - Swim Loch Lomond
17:00 - Head to Isle of Bute
19:30 - Scottish Banquet
21:30 - Dinner Dance
Saturday, September 20th
09:00 - Registration & Coffee
10:00 - Speeches
12:20 - Lunch and WOWSA Awards
13:40 – Speeches
15:40 - Round Table
19:00 - International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame Dinner & Induction Ceremony
Sunday, September 21st
09:00 - Registration & Coffee
10:00 - Speeches
14:30 - Swim in St Ninian's Bay on the Isle of Bute
The luminaries of the open water swimming world who will be honored in Scotland will include:
* Sandra Bucha (U.S.A.), International Swimming Hall of Fame Honor Open Water Swimmer and International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame Honour Swimmer
* Jon Erikson (U.S.A.), International Swimming Hall of Fame Honor Open Water Swimmer
* Claudio Plit (Argentina), International Swimming Hall of Fame Honor Open Water Swimmer
* Judith van Berkel-de Njis (Netherlands), International Swimming Hall of Fame Honor Open Water Swimmer
* David Yudovin (U.S.A.), International Swimming Hall of Fame Honor Open Water Swimmer
* Mercedes Gleitze (Great Britain), International Swimming Hall of Fame Honor Open Water Swimmer
* George Young (Canada), International Swimming Hall of Fame Honor Open Water Swimmer
* Dale Petranech (U.S.A.), International Swimming Hall of Fame Honor Open Water Contributor
* Melissa Cunningham (Australia), 2013 Irving Davids-Captain Roger Wheeler Memorial Award winner
* Vojislav Mijić (Serbia), International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame Honour Swimmer
* James Anderson (U.S.A.), International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame Honour Administrator
* Dr. Jane Katz (U.S.A.), International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame Honour Administrator
* Indonesian Swimming Federation, , International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame Honour Organisation
* Elizabeth Fry (U.S.A.), International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame Honour Swimmer
* Pádraig Mallon (Ireland), the 2013 World Open Water Swimming Man of the Year
* Olga Kozydub (Russia), the 2013 World Open Water Swimming Woman of the Year
* Bering Strait Swim (international team), the 2013 World Open Water Swimming Performance of the Year
* International Ice Swimming Association (Ram Barkai, founder, South Africa), the 2013 World Open Water Swimming Offering of the Year
For additional articles on the 2014 Global Open Water Swimming Conference, visit:
* Olga Kozydub To Be Honored In Scotland
* Pádraig Mallon To Be Honored In Mount Stuart Castle
* Mount Stuart House, Splendid Setting For Swimming
* Colleen Blair To Kick-off Global Open Water Swimming Conference
* The Man Who Swims Better Than He Walks
* Joining In The Sea Goddess At The Hall Of Fame
* Mercedes Gleitze To Be Honored In Scotland
* The Incredible Career Of Merceded Gleitze
* Jon Erikson To Be Honoured In Florida
* The Incredible Career Of Mercedes Gleitze
* St Ninian's Bay To Host International Swim Conference
Copyright © 2014 by World Open Water Swimming Association
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