Long-standing Molokai Record Broken By Chris Palfrey

Long-standing Molokai Record Broken By Chris Palfrey

Chris Palfrey broke one of the longest standing records in marathon swimming this month when he did a 12:53 crossing of the Molokai (Kaiwi) Channel, swimming from the island of Molokai to Oahu.

First crossed in 1961 by International Swimming Hall of Famer Keo Nakama, Chris broke the record of Jonathan Ezer set in 1974.

Chris said, “The swim felt great and was mostly uneventful. We started in calm conditions from Molokai at 4:04 in the morning. It took me 30 minutes to settle down in the dark [see video below]. After heading out to the channel, I hit some head winds and surface chop for an hour due to the wrap-around effect of the winds as the current was taking me north. It was quite tough for last 6 miles as I swam right into a northerly headwind.”

His target time, based on previous swims, was 15-16 hours, but Chris was firing on all cyclinders. “It was total luck that I had over 3 hours with a 1-knot tail current and no discernable head current. In all honesty, my only goal was to swim fairly and touch the sand on Oahu. I’m extremely happy with that. Achieving a record is simply the luck of the draw as all long-distance swimmers know.”

Notwithstanding the record channel time under reasonable conditions (10-15 knot winds most of the way), it was still 26 miles (42K) in the middle of the Pacific Ocean between two relatively tiny islands. “It was definitely my toughest swim. I remember thinking that the 2010 Rottnest Channel solo was a picnic compared to Molokai.”

As Chris was swimming towards Oahu, his wife was swimming away from Oahu towards Kauai. “I thought of Penny many times during my swim. I was hoping she got away from Kaena Point OK and that the conditions were good for her. I only found out at 2:00 am on Sunday because I couldn’t sleep that her swim was over.”

I didn’t know what to say to Penny when we met up on Kauai. So I just gave her a hug. I feel sorry for her as she has trained, lived and breathed this swim for months and we are both certain she can do it. We love Hawaii and the people we’ve met here, so I think we’ll be back at some stage for another crack at it.”

Quinn Carver prepared a video of Chris’ swim here. The beauty of the deep blue ocean in the middle of the Pacific Ocean is striking.

Copyright © 2010 by Steven Munatones