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Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Q&A With Penny Palfrey En Route To Cuba

About a month shy of her 50th birthday, Australian marathon swimmer Penny Palfrey is in Fort Lauderdale, Florida with her team. The intrepid swimmer and her escort team are about to set off on their greatest journey to date: Cuba to Florida.

She calmly answered a variety of questions about her 103-mile (166 km) swim, which she estimates may take her anywhere between 40 and 60 hours.

Q1. How do you possibly prepare mentally for the swim?
Palfrey: That starts a long time out from the actual swim with the pre-planning. Organization is part of my preparation for the swim. Looking at charts, maps and the body of water itself are all an important part of preparing for my swim. Once it gets closer to the swim, my focus shifts to the job at hand: the actual swim. Handling what comes at me — the weather, the marine life, stingers, and waves [with the] awareness that all of these and more are part of [the swim] and being ready to handle it all.

Q2. How do you push through the pain and fatigue?
Palfrey: A lot of it is mental. I try to manage things. At times I back off through a rough patch, then I may push harder to get through. I work the problems as they come. I rely on my strength and know that I am prepared. I draw on my 20 years of experience to help me push through.

Q3. Is there anything you think about while you swim that you want to share?
Palfrey: Music. I usually have a song in my head, sometimes it is the same song for 40 hours. During my Cayman Islands swim, it was the Led Zeppelin song Stairway to Heaven. I am also very aware of my immediate surroundings: my team, the kayak, the support boat, the wildlife, if there is any around, the sun, the waves. This becomes my world. I am zoned out completely, yet completely aware.

Q4. Describe a typical training day.
Palfrey: I usually swim for 3½ hours in the morning, [then have] a massage or physio (depending on the day). Then I go home and do some chores, nap for an hour, then to the gym. I work out about 5 hours per day. On the weekends, I get a 6 or 7 hour swim in on Saturdays. I try to take at least one day off per week, usually Sundays. I have spent 30 hours a week training for this swim.

Q5. How will this swim be different than the Bridging the Cayman Islands swim?
Palfrey: The Gulf Stream will have a big impact on the swim. Another difference is starting in one country — Cuba — and swimming to another — the US. In the Cayman Islands, it was a swim from island to island within the same country. The other differences remain to be seen.

Q6. What kind of swimsuits will you wear?
Palfrey: I wear a porous Lycra swimsuit. No wetsuit. During the swim, I may put on a long sleeve/ long leg porous Lycra suit to protect me from marine stingers.

Q7. Tell us about what you eat/drink while swimming.
Palfrey: I take in carbohydrates, electrolytes chocolate, some coffee and oats throughout the swim.

Q8. Which food is your favorite?
Palfrey: The chocolate and the oats are my treats. I have them at 4 hours and 8 hours. It is something I look forward to.

Q9. How long do you think the swim will take?
Palfrey: Between 40-60 hours.

Q10. When do you expect to start the swim?
Palfrey: Between June 23-30, weather permitting.

Q11. What is the largest logistical challenge for this swim?
Palfrey: You mean apart from swimming 103 miles, the extreme heat, sun exposure, marine stingers and the Gulf Stream?

Q12. Tell us some of the things your support crew do while you are swimming.
Palfrey: The kayakers escort me. The medical team looks after all the medical needs of me and the crew. The handlers feed me, change and recharge the shark shields, send information to shore, organizing illumination at night. I keep them very busy. I need to add that they are also very supportive and positive during my swim.

Q13. Where will you start?
Palfrey: Havana.

Q14. Where will you end?
Palfrey: I will finish the swim in the Florida Keys possibly somewhere between Marathon and Key West. The Gulf Stream will determine where I will finish, along with my boat Captain and crew.

Q15. Estimated cost of the whole adventure?
Palfrey: The budget of $166,000 was our staring point. We have good local support from my hometown of Townsville, Australia. Sponsors are always welcome. We financed most of the swim ourselves.

Q16. How did you research weather/currents?
Palfrey: We have been looking at that for close to a year, researching the Internet, talking to pilots and weather guys. Dan Boyle, a crew member, has done a great job of consulting weather experts as it relates to the wind and the Gulf Stream.

Q17. How do you taper for the swim?
Palfrey: I have eased up over the past 4 weeks and will continue to do that right up to the swim.

Q18. Why Cuba to Florida?
Palfrey: I was successful in the Cayman Islands swim. It seems like a natural since I live and train in the tropics. It made sense to me, after I set the world record of swimming 67.25 miles (108 km) to attempt this swim. The wonderful view from shore to shore during a fly over one trip had me saying "I think I’d like to try that swim."

Q19. What other swimmers do you admire?
Palfrey: My support team. I admire them for their commitment and continued support. I mainly concentrate on my own swims; however, I must say that the marathon swimming community is a wonderful group of people where I have developed many lifelong friendships.

Q20. What do you love most about open water swimming? Least?
Palfrey: The freedom in the water, the travel, the challenge, the friends and the beautiful places that I get to see are what I love about open water swimming. My least favorite is being forced to abandon a swim before the completion due to conditions and/or marine life after I have put in all the effort and training.

Q21. What drives you to swim?
Palfrey: The challenge. I find a challenge, I have a look at it find out all the information I can about the swim then I am halfway there. The completion after all the hard work and training is part of the driving force.

Q22. Who or what is your inspiration?
Palfrey: My team is my inspiration. They are a wonderful group of accomplished people in their own right. They are up for an interesting challenge. And find the time in their busy schedules to help me.

Q23. How can people learn more about you and your swim?
Palfrey: On Twitter (@pennypalfrey) or Facebook or via the GPS tracker or my blog.

Readers can venture a guess how long Palfrey's swim will be in hours at the Daily News of Open Water Swimming.

Copyright © 2012 by World Open Water Swimming Association

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The Staff of the World Open Water Swimming Association

2014 Global Open Water Swimming Conference

Learn more...
Courtesy of WOWSA, Huntington Beach, California.


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

Swim Across the English Channel...


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Open Water Swimming Magazine

Open Water Swimming Magazine

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

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.

2014 Open Water Swimming Almanac

An Almanac for Open Water Swimming

An almanac is essentially a body of knowledge which is so complete that it enables people in different fields to make predictions about the future of their respective industries.

This, for example, was the purpose of the traditional farmers almanacs. It enabled farmers to determine as accurately as possible which crops to plant for the greatest harvests in a given year.

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