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Saturday, June 30, 2012

Penny Palfrey - Swim, Rest, Repeat...Up North

With everything going precisely to plan and the marathon swimming world looking upon Penny Palfrey's audacious attempt across the Straits of Florida team via GPS, Facebook and Twitter, what lies ahead of the 49-year-old is arguably even tougher and more mind-boggling.

Assuming she completes her estimated 55-59 hour swim safely in the tropically warm, humid and insanely bright Caribbean Sea tomorrow on July 1st evening between 2-6 pm, she will greet the world's media, get some well-deserved rest...and then head off to the North Channel.

In the North Channel in August, she is hoping to complete the Oceans Seven. Palfrey has completed 6 of the 7 channels of the Oceans Seven: English Channel (English-France), Catalina Channel (Catalina-California), Strait of Gibraltar (Spain-Morocco), Molokai Channel (Molokai-Oahu), Tsugaru Channel (Honshu-Hokkaido) and the Cook Strait (North Island-South Island). But she has one channel left: the North Channel between Ireland and Scotland.

Although she has proven that she can swim the distance, the North Channel is as far away from the Straits of Florida as one can possibly get without going beyond the Arctic Circle.

The Straits of Florida are warm and humid. The North Channel is cold and foggy.

The Straits of Florida have tiny box jellyfish. The North Channel has large Lions's Mane.

The Straits of Florida was calm and tranquil. The North Channel is unpredictably lumpy.

Imagine swimming in a Jacuzzi - the equivalent of what Palfrey is doing in the Straits of Florida - and then jumping into a sea where the water temperatures hovers between 10-13°C (50-55°C).

However psychologically tough she is, the physiological demands that will be required to shift gears from the Caribbean Sea to the North Channel are unimaginable.

To prepare and complete a very warm water marathon swim the equivalent of 5 English Channels, and then recover and repeat another marathon swim slightly longer than the English Channel within a month's time is mind-blowing.

When she finishes, the media will ask her a number of questions. One question may be, "What is next?"

Rest and repeat.

Remarkable. Postscript: On her second night of swimming, she could not continue her swim due to a stong southeast current and was pulled around midnight. She is currently on her escort boat under the care of her crew heading back to shore.

Copyright © 2012 by Open Water Source

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