Eating And Smiling While Swimming For 80 Hours

Eating And Smiling While Swimming For 80 Hours

María Digna Ezcurra de Ortellado has left a legacy that is being unearthed by the English-speaking marathon swimming world.

The former medical student was an accomplished pool and marathon swimmer in her native Paraguay. She started out as a pool sprinter (50, 100, 200 and 400 meter freestyle) and ended up as a marathon swimmer. “Me tiré al agua en Concepción a las 8:20 en un día sábado y llegué a Itá Enramada 4 días después, tras 80 horas con 45 minutos“, she recalled in Spanish. “I started swimming in Concepción at 8:20 pm [on a Saturday night] and arrived four days later after 80 hours and 45 minutes in the water.”

Between 1954 to 1957, she swam mind-boggling distances throughout Rio de la Plata Basin including the following swims:

1954 27 kilometers from Villa Hayes to Sports Club of Port Saxony in Asunción in 5 hours 57 minutes

1954 179 kilometers from Asunción to Formosa in 38 hours 20 minutes

1956 80 kilometers from Asunción in 19 hours 10 minutes and 8 kilometers to the south of Puerto Sara

1957 318 kilometers from Concepción to Puerto Pilcomayo in Argentina in 80 hours 45 minutes along the Paraguay River that flows through the countries Bolivia, Argentina and Paraguay


Durante el trayecto me acompañaron lanchas, botes, buques de la armada, un médico y 2 nadadores durante el día y 2 durante la noche. Recuerdo que tenía 65 kilos y querían que suba 15 porque pensaban que iba a bajar muchos kilos, pero solo subí hasta 72 y con el mismo peso llegué, además con las mismas pulsaciones y presión. Llegué bien a Itá Enramada y podía seguir inclusive, pero mi futuro esposo -Hilario Ortellado- tenía miedo de que me pasara algo, pues yo le había batido el récord a una norteamericana que nadó 80 horas -45 minutos menos- y la habían sacado en coma y a los 3 días falleció. Es por eso que salí, pero sin problemas físicos, durante el trayecto no podía tocar nada y comía de todo, milanesas y hasta soyo aguado.”

During the swim, boats, Navy ships, a doctor and 2 swimmers during the day and 2 night. I remember I weighed 65 kilograms and they wanted to me to add 15 more. But I finished with the same weight. There were no physical problems during the swim, but I could not touch anything and ate everything,” the now 83-year-old María recalled about her historic swims in the Rio de la Plata Basin.

Copyright © 2011 by Open Water Source