Woman swims Atlantic Ocean

A few years ago, I wrote about our Diana Nyad's attempt to swim from Cuba to Florida, which boggled the mind. These days, long-distance swimmers set their sights on bigger things. Now 59-year-old Jennifer Figge of Colorado says she is the first woman to swim the Atlantic. Well, almost. She started from the Cape Verde Islands, off the coast of Africa, was blown off course and wound up landing at Trinidad-Tobago instead of the Bahamas. She did the 2100-mile distance in 24 days, swimming inside a shark cage, and sleeping on board a catamaran that escorted her.

Not to nitpick, but I'm wondering why she didn't start from the westernmost tip of Africa, and swim the narrowest stretch of the Atlantic to Brazil. This way, she could say she actually swam from continent to continent. At any rate, it's a tremendous achievement, especially since she had 30-foot seas to contend with.

In The Lavender Locker Room, I enlarged on the subject of why women can go head to head with men in this sport. Our greater percentage of body fat gives us an edge, not only with fueling the effort but also holding hypothermia and weight loss at bay. In her books, Diana Nyad explains how she would pack on an extra 30 pounds before a swim, to give herself more edge. I wonder how many pounds Figge dropped during her swim. That's really losing weight the hard way.

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