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Friday, June 29, 2012

Penny Palfrey Is Blazing Fast Heading Into The First Night

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 Open Water Source

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