Palfrey crushes world record

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    Hundreds of well-wishers crowded the beach outside Morritt’s resort in East End Sunday night to greet Penny Palfrey as she walked ashore after more than 40 gruelling hours in the sea on her record-setting swim from Little Cayman. 

    Mrs. Palfrey, 48, broke a world record with her time of 40 hours, 41 minutes across 67.25 miles of open water between Little Cayman and Grand Cayman. 

    She beat the existing record for the longest solo unassisted ocean swim by four miles. 

    “This is one for the ages,” said Frank Flowers, the organiser of the Australian/British swimmer’s effort. 

    After almost two days at sea, her body supported by the water, it was anticipated that Mrs. Palfrey would only have the strength to crawl onto the sand, but she stood up, her arms in the air in victory. 

    Her face was swollen, puffy and nearly unrecognisable from so many hours in the salt water by the time she reached land at 10.07pm. She had set out from Little Cayman at 5.27am Saturday. 

    She was quickly put on a stretcher and taken to the Cayman Islands Hospital to be kept under observation overnight and was likely to have been put on an intravenous drip to replace fluids and salt lost during the epic swim. 

    But by Monday morning she was doing fine. 

    “She should be released today and will be at happy hour at the hotel this afternoon,” said Steven Munatones, who also helped organise the swim. 

    Sharks killed  

    During the swim, four sharks were spotted at different times near Mrs. Palfrey. 

    Twice, as her support team on the Carib Princess tender boat watched, the sharks came within a few feet of Mrs. Palfrey. Local fisherman Charles Ebanks, who was among the support crew on a small inflatable power boat, used dead fish to draw the sharks away from Mrs. Palfrey, then snagged the sharks using a hook and line attached to rubber matting. 

    Using a machete, he killed the Oceanic white tips in the water. Mr. Ebanks told the crew the sharks were aggressive and would have continued to threaten Mrs. Palfrey. 

    He said he had also dealt similarly with another shark early Sunday that had been in the waters near her. 

    The fourth shark spotted near the swimmer had disappeared by the time Mr. Ebanks reached Mrs. Palfrey on his boat. 

    The sharks were six to eight feet long. One came within about four feet of a kayak manned by Richard Clifford, who was a few feet away from Palfrey, escorting her through the water. 

    One Rib, or small inflatable, that stayed close to the swimmer throughout had a shark shield attached to it which is supposed to repel sharks with electrical pulses. 

    The killing of the sharks has caused controversy with members of conservation groups asking why it was necessary. 

    Final mile  

    Although she had slowed down considerably from her starting speed of 88 strokes per minute as the swim went on, Mrs. Palfrey made good headway on her final mile. Members of her support team had been dropped on shore a little earlier so they could be there when she touched land. 

    Mr. Clifford and Mr. Munatones swam out to 
greet her. 

    On shore, among the large cheering crowd, were the Flowers family, sports minister Mark Scotland and MLA Cline Glidden. 

    “She looked like she’d aged 20 years. That’s a combination of the sunscreen she’d put on her body and the natural absorption of salt water. She didn’t look that well. Her tongue was swollen up, her lips were chapped but she was able to walk on shore and acknowledge her friends…,” said Mr. Munatones a few minutes after she was taken by ambulance from East End. 

    “When the [medics] asked her to get on the gurney… she was able to do it by herself. Mentally, she is there and physically 
she’ll recover,” he said. 

    Mrs. Palfrey’s record beats the existing longest open water swim of 63 miles held by three swimmers who crossed the English Channel and back, said Mr. Munatones, who administers swim records for the International Marathon Swimming 
Hall of Fame. 

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    Penny Palfrey walks ashore at Morritt’s in East End after her epic, record-breaking swim of 40 hours and 41 minutes.
    PHOTO: NORMA CONNOLLY

    18 COMMENTS

    1. Pretty good but a shame a couple of sharks in their own environment had to die for her to be able to prove she can do it.

    2. I think what Palfrey did was an amazing achievement and should be commended for a great human feat. But the victory is shadowed by the fact that ocean animals died in pursuit of her world record breaking accomplishment. Shark populations are under heavy fishing pressure, especially oceanic whitetips, and to have killed 3 of these sharks in pursuit of personal glory is sickening. While I wish to congratulate Palfrey, I cannot, this is a mark of shame, and a sad day for the arrogance of our species.

    3. A fantastic personal achievement but at too high a cost for me. Reading this from UK it puts GC on the map for the wrong reasons – shame.

    4. Awesomeness or Arrogance???

      The WOMAN in me says, I support applaud this grandmother’s victory, the discipline of mind, body soul required to accomplish this incredible feat is beyond inspiring

      The CHRISTIAN in me says, if we, as a global community, could put half as much energy and passion in fulfilling the will of God, as we do in fulfilling accomplishing our personal challenges, WOW, what a wonderful world this would be!

      The ANIMAL RIGHTS ACTIVIST in me says, why are humans such arrogant species? Killing innocent wildlife in the environment in which they are born to prove our awesomeness to the world is the epitome of arrogance.

    5. Hey guys Congrats Palfrey just some history:
      Famed oceanographic researcher Jacques Cousteau described the oceanic whitetip as the most dangerous of all sharks.13 Despite the greater notoriety of the great white shark and other sharks habitually found nearer the shore, the oceanic whitetip is responsible for more fatal attacks on humans than all other species combined, as a result of predation on survivors of shipwrecks or downed aircraft.114 Such incidents are not included in common shark-attack indices for the 20th and 21st centuries, and as a result of this, the oceanic whitetip does not have the highest number of recorded incidents.15 16 Nonetheless, incidents involving the oceanic whitetip total in the thousands worldwide,16 with one incident alone, the torpedoing of USS Indianapolis on 30 July 1945, alleged to have accounting for 600 to 800 sailors, though the most reportedly died from exposure to the elements rather than from shark attacks.17
      Also during World War II, the Nova Scotia, a steamship carrying approximately 1,000 people near South Africa, was sunk by a German submarine. With only 192 survivors, many deaths were attributed to the whitetip.1

    6. The shark issue aside, what an amazing accomplishment. My family in Florida and North Carolina followed Mrs. Palfrey’s race from beginning to end. We all say congratulations and thank God for her safety.

    7. I love how everyone is an environmentalist all of a sudden. Your very existence (humans) is killing off hundreds of species a day and I bet you wouldn’t give 100 or every other Saturday to assist the humane society. You’re all hypocrites.

      We burn diesel fuel for electricity in a place where we get sun 360 days a year? Thats a crime in itself.

      Ohh and by the way, congratulations Mrs. Palfrey!!!

    8. I used to love seeing Save the Earth bumper stickers in my hometown when I was younger. Even then I was able to figure out that some people had it backwards… Quite simply, saving the Earth, the Environment, or the Sharks is a noble pursuit, until the Earth, Environment, or Shark is TRYING TO EAT YOU!

      crisscross has it right. Every time you swat a mosquito, you’re killing the an animal. Does that mean you are baiting it if you go outside?

    9. It’s appalling to me that anyone would celebrate an athletic feat as a good thing when several animals were brutally murdered for doing nothing but simply living where they live–and potentially getting in the way of the athlete. The ocean belongs to those who live in it, not humans.All we’ve managed to do is pollute it and rape it. She’s a grandmother? What does she teach her grandchildren about life–to kill whatever they like just because they can? Or anytime an animal might be in the way of their arrogant, selfish goals? I mean really, there are certainly other ways she could have proven what an athlete she is. Maybe she also vacations with Sara Palin and shoots wolves from planes for fun, or shoots African lions in canned hunts.If she were my grandmother, I’d disown her. And by the way crisscross I DO donate monthly to the humane society and I DO volunteer.

    10. Francis:
      Do you have a negitive or positive impact on the environment?
      Every plastic bottle you don’t recycle is killing the eco-system, as it doesn’t break down naturaly. Every KW of electricity or mile you drive is contributing to global warming. Your gold and diamonds are probably from conflict areas. For every pound of shrimp and fish you eats, there is 20lbs of wasted by-product…. especially turtles, dolphins, birds and your be-loved shark.

      Like I said… you’re all hypocrites.

    11. Isn’t an unassisted ocean swim defined as having no shark-cage and no wetsuit? She appears to be wearing as wetsuit as she emerges from the water. Still an amazing swim but unassisted?

    12. As someone of Cayman descent and an avid SCUBA diver, I applaud her record but am sickened that sharks were killed in this manner. It is a crime for a human to enter another person’s home and harm them, yet we don’t think twice about encroaching on the territory of animals and killing them for our safety.

      If this was a single nuisance animal on a public beach, it may have been justified. But to kill several animals in the open sea for a single person is just sickening.

      I have no doubt that their method for bringing the sharks close with bait and then chopping them with machetes contributed to the number of sharks lured to the area.

      It seems rather unnecessary for a bit of personal glory.

    13. I did not read the article originally as I find personal challenges like this silly. Humans where smart enough to invent boats and that is why we do not swim these distances any more.

      I find it disgusting that they killed sharks to make way for the swimmer. DISGUSTING

    Comments are closed.