According to her website, Figge departed Cabo San Lucas on Dec. 31, 2010. She arrived in Honolulu Feb. 6, 2011, at 7:30 in the morning. In all, her journey took her about 38 days.
If Figge had swum the full 3,000 (plus) miles from Mexico, she would have had to cover about 79 miles a day.
Now, assuming Figge is the fastest swimmer on the planet, she would be able to swim 1,500 meters (in a pool) in about fourteen and a half minutes. There are about 1,609 meters in a mile. So, for argument’s sake, let’s say Figge was able to complete a mile in the ocean in about a quarter of an hour.
If she kept that pace for her entire journey and swam six hours every day, she could conceivably cover 24 miles in a day. Multiply that by her 38 days in the water, and it comes to about 912 miles.
That’s a good 2,100 miles short of the distance between Cabo San Lucas and Honolulu. The boat escorting Figge, named “Jamie”, deserves as least partial credit for the journey.
The question of what constitutes “swimming” a long distance has come up for Figge in the past.
In 2009, she swam stretches between the Cape Verde Islands, off Africa, and Trinidad, off the coast of Venezuela. While Figge wasn’t quoted as saying she had swum the Atlantic, the headline on an Associated Press story shows how her feat was presented: “Jennifer Figge Swims Across Atlantic, First Woman.”
According to “Woman Overboard,” a January article written for Outside Magazine, some reporters assumed Figge was lying about her accomplishment.
She didn’t make any claims. But the Outside Magazine article provided the purist’s point of view.
“To many marathon swimmers, swims like Figge’s and Lecomte’s are an affront to accuracy. Lynne Cox, the legendary cold-water marathon swimmer, says that in her opinion a legitimate swim means ‘you start on land and you finish on land, and you don’t have any assistance in between.'”
As for today, it’s a stretch for news outlets to say that she swam from Mexico to Honolulu.
Rather, Figge swam ridiculous distances at a fast pace across the open ocean while emitting electrical currents to deter sharks day after day for more than month.
Regardless of our Fact Check findings, it’s pretty darn impressive no matter how you phrase it. Even if news organizations, including Civil Beat, might have given the wrong impression about her accomplishment.
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