Jennifer Figge, a 56-year-old Coloradan, touched her toes in the sand of a Trinidad beach and became the first female to swim across the Atlantic Ocean on Feb. 5.
In a lifetime of extreme endurance tests, among them a 160-mile run through a Mexican desert with a cast on one leg, this has been the defining goal of her’s.
She first got the idea to swim across the ocean in the 1960’s after a trans-Atlantic flight. And now on dry land, it’s a different sort of yearning that consumes her.
“My dog doesn’t know where I am,” she told The Associated Press on Saturday by phone. “It’s time for me to get back home to Hank.”
The dog swirled in her thoughts, as did family and friends, as Figge stroked through the chilly Atlantic waters escorted by a sailboat. She saw a pod of pilot whales, several turtles, dozens of dolphins, plenty of Portuguese man-of-war – but no sharks.
“I was never scared,” Figge said. “Looking back, I wouldn’t have it any other way. I can always swim in a pool.”
Her journey began on January 12 in the Cape Verde Islands. She covered nearly 2,000 miles of ocean in only 24 days. And that has some people questioning whether or not she completed the endurance feet. Doing the simple math would mean she swam an average of 80 miles a day.
But her business manager, David Higden has admitted that there were about five days where Figge did not even get into the water since the sea was so stormy and remained aboard the catamaran which accompanied her journey.
The AP story goes on to say that Figge woke up most days around 7am and assessed whether the weather was fit for swimming. Her longest stint in the water was about eight hours while her shortest was 21 minutes.
We also know that she had planned to swim to the Bahamas but was blown off course to Trinidad. Such setbacks do bring into question exactly how many miles Figge did swim during her crossing.
So far she has not commented bar her initial quotes to AP. Figge has said however she plans to swim a further 900 or so miles to the British Virgin Islands from Trinidad, arriving in late February, when her crew will work out the total distance she swam.
So is it too early to declare world records?
Probably, but whether or not she accomplished this for real, or she rode in a boat part of the way, or whatever, it’s still a pretty impressive athletic accomplishment.
Benoît Lecomte from France made the first known solo transatlantic swim in 1998, covering 4,000 miles in 73 days. He was accompanied by boat but swam six to eight hours a day, earning him a place in the Guinness Book of Records.
Also? They swam across a fucking ocean. How crazy is that?