Pablo Fernández Álvarez Swims History’s Longest, Fastest Ocean Swim
Courtesy of WOWSA, Huntington Beach, California.
Pablo Fernández Álvarez of Madrid is creative and relentless in looking for new places to swim and new records to set.
Over the course of his career, the Spanish entrepreneur has swum in San Francisco Bay, pioneered a 16.1 km Senegambia Open Water Challenge from Senegal to Gambia, participated in the Great Shark Swim in the Agulhas Current in South Africa, swam from the U.S. Virgin Islands to Puerto Rico, swam across the Strait of Gibraltar, completed the fastest solo current-assisted (current-positive) 100 km ocean swim in the Gulf Stream in 12 hours 21 minutes in 2019, and then did a 25-hour charity swim in an Endless Pool.
On July 11th, he attempted to swim the greatest distance in the ocean during a 24-hour period in the Gulf Stream. He started off wonderfully with the gigantic push of the Gulf Stream. He swam for over 3 hours and had already covered 27 km off the east coast of Florida. But with the seas getting more rough, his escort kayakers started to get sick and he had to abort as night fell due to safety reasons.
He was definitely not willing to give up and go home right away. He regrouped, assessed his major issues, and then he decided to stay in Florida waiting for the next optimal swim window.
At 10 am on July 19th off the shore of Fort Lauderdale, he set off with his team. The conditions were nearly ideal for record-setting purposes as the winds were blowing steadily between 10-15 knots and the ocean waves stayed in the 1-3 foot range. The water temperature hovered between 28.8°C and 30°C.
He was escorted by boat captains Ed Haray and Ralph B. Curd with escort paddlers Nicolas Araujo, Julian Seekins, Javier Rojas, Carlos Ríos, Ramiro González, and Kevin Gonzalez alongside as he swam through the day and night. The swim was photographed and filmed by Gonzalo Martin while weather experts Dane and Jennifer Clark were on dryland providing weather and current information throughout the swim. Robert Strauss [shown above with Fernández] was the chief observer assisted by David Boudreau and Ed Haray.
His first record set was 238 km over 24 hours from 10:00 am on July 19th to 10:00 am on July 20th. Strauss said later, “The currents were going so fast. We calculated that Pablo was swimming 100 meters approximately every 40 seconds for 24 hours. He was flying.”
Steven Munatones commented on the world record current-assisted swim, “Compare Pablo’s average speed – sustained for 24 hours – to the speed of Olympic male sprinters who are maxing out at 46-47 seconds in a 100-meter sprint with a dive and turn while wearing techsuits. It was brilliant for Pablo and his team to find such a fast-moving body of water under the optimal conditions and then ride the current for over a day. Logistically, operationally, meteorologically, navigationally, it was a great swim. And what a fun new niche in the ocean swimming world – current-positive marathon swims in the ocean – to be able to swim so fast for so long. There have also been river swims where the swimmers ride the water movement for long periods in current-assisted solo swims, but I do not think anyone has swum so far and so fast like Pablo did.”
His second record set was the longest distance covered in an ocean swim when he finally finished at 12:36 pm on July 20th. He covered 250 km (155.34 miles) in 26 hours 36 minutes and 18 seconds – without fins or hand paddles, just riding the fast-moving Gulf Stream.
Strauss confirmed that Fernández swam the first 100 km in 11 hours 7 minutes and 7 seconds. The first 200 km in 21 hours 21 minutes and 20 seconds. The first 225 km in 23 hours 54 minutes and 19 seconds.
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