Pablo Fernández Álvarez Aborts World Record Attempt After Swimming 27 km In The First 3 Hours
Courtesy of WOWSA, Huntington Beach, California.
When open water swimmers want to swim really fast, they can swim down rivers like in the Hudson River in the 20 Bridges Manhattan Island Swim or down rapids a la Australian swimmer Rob Hutchings. While rapids swimming will generate great speed, it may only be for short distances and it may be dangerous with rocks and undertows.
If an open water swimmer wants to generate great speeds for very long distances, there are specific locations around the world where this kind of adventure swimming could take place. Four examples include:
- Gulf Stream along the East Coast of the United States
- Kuroshio Current along the eastern coast of Japan
- East Australian Current off of east coast of Australia
- Brazil Current off the east coast of Brazil
Pablo Fernández Álvarez completed the fastest current-assisted 100 km swim in the world, called the Century Swim in the Gulf Stream, in 12 hours 21 minutes in 2019. “The Gulf Stream is the strongest of the four western boundary currents,” the Spaniard explained.
Fernández set about planning a 24-hour swim in the Gulf Stream with hopes to swim up to 226 km within a day. “While it may seem as easy as just jumping into the Gulf Stream and swimming, it is definitely not,” observed Steven Munatones. “There are all kinds of logistics and weather planning involved. Pablo’s team has to find the exact right conditions on the right day with winds at his back, but not too strong. Of course, there is also an element of luck.”
Fernández started this morning well offshore from Fort Lauderdale in the middle of an optimal Gulf Stream. His weather team planned it just right. He started swimming, covering nearly 10 kilometers in the first hour with four knots of current pushing him along. But his weather team knew that there could be ribbons of strong currents within the Gulf Stream which is not some uniform monolithic stream of flowing water. The current comes and goes and can expand in bothwidth and flow.
Luck remained on his side during the start of the swim – as well as 15+ knot winds that continued to blow in the morning and afternoon. This was exactly what was planned and hoped for. Within the first three hours, Fernández was speeding along and had swum a total of 27.3 km (or 9.1 km per hour).
However, his luck took an unexpected turn for the worse. His kayakers got sick and could not continue in the water with Fernández. With Robert Strauss onboard as part of his observer team, it was judged to be too risky to remain in the water along the large escort boat, especially as night fell without moonlight. “The kayaker has not stopped vomiting and his pulse rate has fallen. The escort boat is swinging from side to side and the furniture inside the cabin is all over the place. At 5:53 pm, the swim was aborted for safety reasons. Disappointing, but it was too dangerous to continue and there is no moon for light,” reported Strauss.
Fernández will reboot after swimming 51.49 km in an attempt that was called short. He will try again with plans to be announced later for another attempt at a Guinness World Record. “I felt really strong and very good in the water. I think I could have set three records today, but safety always comes first so we made the right decision. I am not leaving Miami (in order to return to his native Spain) without a record, so stay tuned for updates.”
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