World's Longest And Most Dangerous Swims

World's Longest and Most Dangerous Swims

The human body is possible of a lot more than most people think. It is not designed to survive 60 days of non-stop swimming, but it will withstand battling big waves and cold ocean water for 6-8 hours a day for weeks in a row, as several long-distance swimmers have proven. The longest swims are classified in several categories – with or without a shark cage, using a wetsuit or flippers or not, non-stop or taking breaks every few hours. All of them test people to their mental and physical limits with sharks, poisonous jellyfish, dolphins and storms along the way. 

Down the Amazon River

Martin Strel, a 52-year-old Slovenian known as the "The Fish Man" and "Big River Man," finished a 66 days swim down the Amazon River in 2007, setting the world record for the longest swim. He became the first man to swim the entire length of the famous river from headwaters in Peru to the Brazilian port city of Belém, for a total of 3,274 miles, swimming for more than 10 hours every day, according to Amazon Swim.

From Africa to Europe

A decade earlier, Martin Strel became the first man to swim non-stop from Africa to Europe. It took him 29 hours, 36 minutes, and 57 seconds to complete the task. And he did it without a wetsuit, under supervisions and seven international judges. Seven swimmers had tried the same trip before him, but none of them succeeded.

From Cuba to Florida

On her fifth attempt, at 64 years old, the legendary long-distance swimmer Diana Nyad became the first person confirmed to swim from Cuba to Florida without the help of a shark cage. She swam for 53 hours from Havana to Key West. "You can't find a stretch of ocean more rife with Mother Nature on steroids — for a swimmer — as you can across the Straits of Florida between Havana and Key West," Nyad says. Some of the dangers include sharks and venomous jellyfish.

Between Grand Cayman Island and Little Cayman

Penny Palfrey, an Australian-British swimmer, became the first person to swim 67.25 miles between Grand Cayman Island and Little Cayman in the Caribbean in 40 hours and 41 minutes. She set the world record for the longest solo unassisted ocean swim, according to World Record Academy. There are conflicting reports whether sharks were killed during the swim to protect Palfrey, but they were definitely near her. She was also stung three times by jellyfish.

From Eleuthera Island to Nassau in the Bahamas

In October 2014, Australian swimmer Chloe McCardel swam 78 miles in 42.5 hours. This is the longest open-water solo, continuous marathon swim in history, according to Associated Press. The 29-year-old had to fight about 15 jellyfish bites, even though she wore a standard suit, and sunstroke to reach the shore. She was readmitted into a hospital because of the stings, some of which got infected.

From France to U.S.

The London Olympics in 2012 inspired some unbelievable endeavors. An unnamed 34-year-old man told friends he wanted to swim to New York — 3,594 miles from Biarritz — to bring the Olympic spirit to America, and jumped into the water in an impromptu attempt to achieve his goal, according to the Daily Mail. That's more than 580 times longer than the longest Olympic swimming event. The man was rescued by a helicopter off French Atlantic coast.

Across the Atlantic Ocean

Benoit Lecomte swam across the Atlantic Ocean in 1998, the first person to do it. His mission was to raise money for cancer. He, 31 years old at the time, was assisted every time he was in the water with wetsuits and an electromagnetic field to keep sharks away, according to the BBC. He started from Cape Cod, Massachusetts and finished in Quiberon, in northwestern France, swimming for about eight hours a day for a total of for 73. He also battled through eight storms, 45-60 knot winds and 10-20-foot waves, sea turtles, dolphins, jellyfish and extremely cold water.

Across the Adriatic Sea

The longest distance ever swum without flippers in open sea is 139.8 miles by Croatian Veljko Rogošić, known as the "King of Cold Waters," across the Adriatic Sea from Grado to Riccione (both Italy) from August 29-31, 2006, according to Guinness World Records. The attempt took him 50 hours 10 mins.

From Cyprus to Israel

Six Israeli men, aged between 42 and 66, broke a world record by swimming home from Cyprus, according to media reports. Overcoming a plague of plastic bags, jellyfish, cold temperatures, and accompanied by a support vessel, they claimed an open water relay record with 236-mile feat aimed at raising awareness for cleaner oceans. They swam day and night in one-hour relays. The men attribute their strength to their vegan diet.  

From Tokyo to San Francisco

Even though he said "never again" after swimming across the Atlantic Ocean, Ben Lecomte is now swimming across the Pacific Ocean from Tokyo, Japan to San Francisco. That's 5,500 miles, 1,440 hours in the water, 180 days in the Ocean, 8 hours swim per day, and 8,000 calories per day. He trained for three years. This endeavor is dubbed "the longest swim in the name of sustainability."

The Mississippi River

On July 6, 1930, Fred Newton dove into the Mississippi River at Ford Dam in Minnesota. Five months and 1,826 miles later he crawled out of the water in New Orleans, Louisiana, completing what stood for 70 years in the Guinness Book of Records as the longest swim in history. In 2002, Martin Strel swam the entire length of the Mississippi – 2,320 miles – in 68 days. Congress passed a special resolution honoring his achievements.

The Yangtze River

The Yangtze River is one of the best rivers for cruises. It's also ideal for a daring open water swim, as Martin Strel proves again. In 2004, in 51 days of struggling in the muddy river for 2,487 miles, he surpassed his record from the Mississippi. This project was the most demanding to date in all respects, according to his website.

The Danube River

Strel swam the Danube River setting new records a couple of times, once for 84 hours non-stop and once for 58 days. But American triathlete Mimi Hughes swam for longer – 2,800 km (1,740 miles) of the Danube River in 89 days, according to WWF Global. She started from the Black Forest in Germany and finished at the Black Sea in Romania, raising environmental awareness. She braved rain, cold, high water, dangerous eddies and debris, as well as a broken toe.