What is the duration of swimming across the Atlantic?

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By Kristy Tolley

Swimming across the Atlantic Ocean is a feat that has been attempted by swimmers for centuries. This challenging and dangerous task has captured the imagination of adventurers and athletes alike. In this article, we will explore the history of ocean swimming, the longest swim across the Atlantic, and the current world record holder. We will also examine the factors that affect the duration of the swim, the preparation required, and the risks and challenges involved.

The Atlantic Ocean

The Atlantic Ocean is the second-largest ocean in the world, covering an area of approximately 106,400,000 square kilometers. It separates North and South America from Europe and Africa and is bounded by the Arctic Ocean to the north and the Southern Ocean to the south. The Atlantic is the saltiest of all the oceans and has a maximum depth of 8,486 meters. The ocean is also home to a vast array of marine life, including whales, dolphins, sharks, and sea turtles.

History of Ocean Swimming

The history of ocean swimming dates back to ancient times, with accounts of swimming across the Hellespont, a narrow strait in Turkey, dating back to 480 BC. In the early 20th century, ocean swimming became increasingly popular, with swimmers attempting to cross the Atlantic, Pacific, and English Channel. Notable early ocean swimmers include Gertrude Ederle, who became the first woman to swim across the English Channel in 1926, and John William Doble, who attempted to swim across the Atlantic in 1956.

Longest Ocean Swim

The longest ocean swim on record was completed by Benoit Lecomte in 1998. The Frenchman swam 3,716 miles across the Atlantic, starting in Cape Cod, Massachusetts, and ending in Quiberon, France. Lecomte’s swim took him 73 days to complete, and he faced numerous challenges along the way, including strong currents, cold water, and shark infested waters.

Current Record Holder

The current world record holder for swimming across the Atlantic is Jennifer Figge. The American swimmer completed the crossing in 2009, swimming from Cape Verde to Trinidad, a distance of approximately 2,100 miles. Figge completed the swim in 24 days, averaging around 88 miles per day.

Factors Affecting Duration

Several factors can affect the duration of a swim across the Atlantic. These include weather conditions, water temperature, currents, marine life, and the physical and mental condition of the swimmer. The route chosen can also play a significant role in the duration of the swim, with some routes being more challenging than others.

Preparation for the Swim

Preparing for an ocean swim is a daunting task that requires months, if not years, of training and planning. Swimmers must be physically fit and mentally prepared for the grueling challenge that lies ahead. They must also have the necessary equipment, including a support boat, communication devices, and safety equipment such as flares and life jackets.

Risks and Challenges

Swimming across the Atlantic is a risky and challenging endeavor that requires a high level of skill and experience. Swimmers must contend with strong currents, cold water, and marine life, including sharks and jellyfish. They must also be prepared for extreme weather conditions, including storms and high winds.

Swim Route and Distance

The distance of a swim across the Atlantic can vary depending on the route chosen. The shortest and most frequently attempted route is from the Canary Islands to the Caribbean, a distance of approximately 2,500 miles. The longest route is from Lisbon, Portugal, to New York City, a distance of approximately 3,000 miles.

Average Duration of the Swim

The average duration of a swim across the Atlantic can vary greatly depending on the conditions and the route chosen. Swimmers can take anywhere from a few weeks to several months to complete the crossing. The average duration of a successful swim is around 60-70 days.


Swimming across the Atlantic is a challenging and dangerous feat that has been attempted by only a select few. It requires months of training and preparation and a high level of skill and experience. Despite the risks and challenges involved, ocean swimming continues to capture the imagination of adventurers and athletes alike.

Future of Ocean Swimming

As technology and training methods improve, it is likely that we will see more attempts at swimming across the Atlantic and other oceans. Advancements in safety equipment and communication devices could also make the challenge safer and more accessible to a wider range of swimmers. However, the risks and challenges will always be present, and ocean swimming will continue to be one of the most challenging and awe-inspiring feats of human endurance.

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Kristy Tolley

Kristy Tolley, an accomplished editor at TravelAsker, boasts a rich background in travel content creation. Before TravelAsker, she led editorial efforts at Red Ventures Puerto Rico, shaping content for Platea English. Kristy's extensive two-decade career spans writing and editing travel topics, from destinations to road trips. Her passion for travel and storytelling inspire readers to embark on their own journeys.

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