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Sunday, December 4, 2016

Poustinia...Jennifer Figge Swimming In The Ocean

Courtesy of WOWSA, Huntington Beach, California.

Jennifer Figge recently returned from her unprecedented Bermuda Triangle Swim where she swam and sailed far away from the safety of a coastline.

How did it look from her escort boat? See the photos above. Her swim logs offered the following clues on where and how she traversed in the Bermuda Triangle:

November 8th: Day 1 from Cape Canaveral, swam 2.6 nm in 1 hour 30 minutes in 6-8 foot swells in 10-15 knot winds
November 9th: Day 2 from 29⁰47,99N 79⁰39,69W, swam 6.6 nm in 3 hours in 2-4 foot swells in 15 knot winds; 100 nm sailing distance (73⁰ water temperature)
November 10th: Day 3 from 30⁰25,114 N 76⁰15,015 W, no swim due to weather in 10-12 foot swells in 20-25 knot winds; 183 nm sailing distance
November 11th: Day 4 from 30⁰51,198 N 73⁰8,024 W, swam 6 nm in 4 hours 20 minutes in 3-4 foot swells in 8 knots; 164 nm sailing distance (74⁰)
November 12th: Day 5 from 32⁰28,939 N 71⁰22,166 W, swam 4.3 nm in 2 hours in 12-15 foot swells in 20-25 knot winds; 134 nm sailing distance
November 13th: Day 6 from 31⁰39,920 N 68⁰34,906 W, swam 4.8 nm in 3 hours 30 minutes in 4-6 foot swells in 18 knot wind; 150 nm sailing distance (74⁰)
November 14th: Day 7 from 31⁰13,396 N 67⁰5,872 W, swam 2.2 nm in 1 hour 20 minutes in 4-6 foot swells in 15 knot winds; 80 nm sailing distance (73⁰)
November 15th: Day 8 arrived in Bermuda; 142 nm sailing distance
November 16th: Day 9 touched land after swimming a total of 26.5 nm in 15 hours 40 minutes and sailing 953 nm (or a total of 33.4 nautical miles (41.2 miles or 66.3 km) over 20 hours 10 minutes including a day of swimming off Bimini Island)

Firstmate Sara Hajdu who has been a crew member on several of Figge's transoceanic journeys recalled, "It's always an adventure with Jennifer, but by far this Bermuda Triangle Swim was the most complicated project. No wonder why no one came up with the idea before.

The North Atlantic has its challenges and is not very predictable. There were huge waves and high winds shifting all the time - it is difficult to sail in the conditions, not to mention swimming or in my case cooking. I spent most of my time in the galley on my knees just to become as stable as possible.

But we got the maximum out of it. I am proud of her swimming in all conditions on a remote trip like this
."

Captain Tamas Hamor said, "After supporting Jennifer's offshore swimming projects four times across the Atlantic, from Mexico to Hawaii in the Pacific, and several shorter swims in the Caribbean, one would think there shouldn’t be much left to learn about the sport. How wrong.

The Bermuda Triangle Swim was nothing like the ones we did before. The North Atlantic in the winter can be a dreadful place and we got a little taste of it. Variable winds came from all directions; the wind waves were opposing huge ocean swells while the Gulf Stream was running against everything else.

We were convinced Jennifer would give up after seeing her getting seriously seasick while swimming in 15-foot seas. How wrong again. She stopped for a couple of minutes only and continued swimming without even getting out of the water. So once again she has proved her over humanly determination and will
."

Levente Aranyos, owner and captain of the escort boat S/V Amadeus, "As a long-time charter captain specializing in exotic and adventure trips, including a full schedule of diving with large sharks, dolphins and more, I thought I had pretty much seen it all. While in passages I had encounter whales, I had never had a whale stay with the boat circling, waiting for Jennifer to get back in the water, then swimming right under her.

This was AWESOME.

It was great to be part of this big adventure despite the challenging conditions. Some days, we had winds in excess of 40 knots and we were surfing down 20 foot waves.

As the helmsman, the concentration required to keep the boat within a safe distance from Jennifer in these North Atlantic winter conditions is extraordinary. And, during all of this, Jennifer’s quirky sense of humor prevailed. Her response to the painful sores from wetsuit chafing, or the disappointment of not being able to swim when conditions just got too rough, was always humorous and very encouraging to all of the crew. Jennifer’s determination and passion for swimming and her love for the adventures in open ocean are truly inspiring
."

Captain William J. Ray said, "Jennifer's swim was perhaps the most challenging open ocean swim yet. The swim to Bermuda was filled with excitement and wonder. Twice we encountered whales; first a humpback that breached directly in front of us. Then later, a rarely seen Minke whale [shown above].

The Minke was infatuated with Jennifer and wanted to swim right next to her. When we took Jenifer out of the water, he swam around the boat checking us out. When we put her back in the water, he was right back swimming next to her. Other encounters included numerous pods of dolphins surrounding the boat and swimming in our bow’s pressure wave.

Our crew rose to all the challenges and made a very difficult passage bearable. It was truly a pleasure to work with such an experienced and qualified group. Once again, Jenifer’s tenacity persevered. When the conditions were worsening (blowing 35+ with 15 foot waves), the crew suggested alternative routing to/through the Bahamas. Jenifer would have nothing to do with it; her will prevailed and we completed our voyage to Bermuda and back
."

Figge summed up her own swim. "We started and ended the Bermuda Triangle Swim in the Triangle, but we were blown all over the map. It looked so straightforward on the atlas to me. In the end, the route appears as an abstract modern art design.

Also, I strongly feel that the swim should be a crew performance of the year as my mileage doesn't really warrant a swimming performance. I normally put in over 300 miles in a multi-day swim. This was a unique opportunity to explore a very different part of my favorite ocean. In some respects, I realize shorter can be steeper.

One can not tell an ocean how you will swim it, it tells you. There is Russian word, Poustinia, translated... a place where you look deeply into yourself. That place has never come to me on land, nor has it washed up in a wave on the beach. I have to swim out to it. What a great sport we share
."

"It is so interesting to see how these individuals like Jennifer and Ben Hooper and Benoit Lecomte and others coming up like Michael Ventre plan for, finance, view, and dream about their own transoceanic swims," commented Steven Munatones. "For traditionalists, these swims certainly do not follow the rules of the English Channel.

But it is beautiful to understand and imagine the joy that these swimmers experience and the challenges they face way out in the ocean. It is a beautiful thing to see these swimmers share these risk-inherent swims with other like-minded individuals on their crew; the bonds and memories that they create out in the Atlantic Ocean with their crews and with the marine environment are incredibly special and long-lasting
."

Copyright © 2016 by World Open Water Swimming Association

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