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Friday, June 29, 2012

Penny Palfrey Is Blazing Fast Heading Into The First Night

Courtesy of WOWSA, Huntington Beach, California.

Penny Palfrey dove off the shores of Havana, Cuba like her 103-mile (166 km) swim was a 400m freestyle.

And her pace is nearly as fast as she entered the first night of her adventure across the Florida Strait.

Under optimal conditions, Palfrey maintained a 2 mph pace reaching 30 miles off the course of Cuba in the first 15 miles. With her speed, she is taking on the Florida Strait...straight due north.

As night fell, she starting to take on a slight northeastern course but that may be due to the Gulf Stream push. If she can avoid the dreaded box jellyfish for the second consecutive night and withstand the terrible strain that the salt water and tropical sun will increasingly place on her tongue, mouth and skin, all systems look good for her to finish sometime on Sunday.

Since box jellies typically rise at certain times after a full moon, Palfrey may be able to avoid stings if she is lucky. If the box jellies and Portuguese man o war can be avoided, the greatest barrier for success goes away. While the media frequently mentions sharks and her non-use of a shark cage, shark are really not man-eaters and she is protected by escort kayakers, shark divers and two Shark Shields that are constantly around her.

The 103-mile distance, while mind-boggling for all of humanity, it is less of an issue for an ultra-marathon swimmer like Palfrey where finishing is only a matter of time. The currents seem mild, so it is entirely possible that she will finish before noon local time on Sunday at her current pace even with the inevitable slowdown in the second half of the swim.

But the issue that remains is that her crew has reportedly not hit upon anything unexpected yet. But the general principle of open water swimming still applies: expect the unexpected. So something unexpected will probably happen over the next 24 hours unless she gets really, really lucky.

Her course can be followed in near real time here.

Photo of Penny Palfrey swimming in tranquil waters off the coast of Cuba by Str / EPA

Copyright © 2012 by World Open Water Swimming Association

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The Open Water Swimming Magazine is the monthly magazine entirely focused on open water swimming heroes and heroines of every age, ability, and background. Published by the World Open Water Swimming Association, the Open Water Swimming Magazine is a free benefit to WOWSA members.

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The Other Shore follows world record holder and legendary swimmer Diana Nyad as she comes out of a thirty-year retirement to re-attempt an elusive dream: swimming 103 miles non-stop from Cuba to Florida without the use of a shark cage. Her past and present collide in her obsession with a feat that nobody has ever accomplished. At the edge of The Devil’s Triangle, tropical storms, sharks, venomous jellyfish, and one of the strongest ocean currents in the world, all prove to be life-threatening realities. Timothy Wheeler’s documentary brings Diana Nyad’s extraordinary adventure to life as Diana sets out to prove that will and determination are all you need to make the unimaginable possible.

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