Penny Palfrey, Marathon Adventurer

The swims of Penny Palfrey was among the 15 selected nominees for the 2012 World Open Water Swimming Performance of the Year.

The World Open Water Swimming Performance of the Year is meant to honor efforts or swims – successful or not – that (1) best embody the spirit of open water swimming, (2) are representative of the sense of adventure, tenacity and perseverance that open water swimmers are known for, and (3) have most positively influenced the world of open water swimming.

Her nomination from the World Open Water Swimming Association reads,

The mere mention of the name Penny Palfrey in the open water swimming world elicits immediate respect and awe. Whether she dramatically succeeds or is involuntarily pulled from the water, Palfrey is a true adventurer in the classic sense.

She searches for improbable and seemingly impossible courses, and then melds her body and mind to achieve her goals. The 50-year-old underwent an outrageously demanding training schedule that would flat-out exhaust world-class athletes half her age. Palfrey attempted the most difficult hot-cold water double marathon swim in history. She got nearly 80 miles under tropical heat, while stung from head to toe with venomous jellyfish, in her Florida Straits swim between Cuba and Florida. Then less than 2 months later, swam nearly 12 hours into her North Channel attempt between Scotland and Ireland before she was involuntarily pulled due to hypothermia. These swims were not defined as failures; they were audacious attempts that demonstrated her remarkable physical tools and unworldly mental strengths. For her unique view of the Earth as a marathon swimming oasis, for her aquatic adventures of unprecedented difficulty, for her ability to organize and attempt swims around the globe, Penny Palfrey’s back-to-back marathon swims are a worthy nominee for the 2012 WOWSA Open Water Swimming Performance of the Year.”

The nominations are meant to recognize and honor some of the best efforts and swims that the global open water swimming world has seen. Reducing the number of nominees to 15 was extraordinarily difficult due to the incredible efforts and exploits of thousands of women in the sport. Extreme swimmers, disabled swimmers, ice swimmers, marathon swimmers, professional swimmers, coaches, administrators, pilots and swimmers from all walks of life thoroughly impressed their peers, the public and the media with their open water swimming exploits throughout 2012.

The 2009 recipient of the World Open Water Swimming Performance of the Year was the Cayman Islands’ Andrew Smiley who completed the RCP Tiburon Mile in San Francisco, California. The 2010 recipient was the 202-mile relay swim by the Ventura Deep Six that swam down the coast of California. The 2011 recipient was Tunisia’s Nejib Belhedi who swam the 1400K Swim Across Tunisia.

The 2012 WOWSA Performance of the Year nominees are
(listed in alphabetical order of their first name):

1. Alina Warren (Scotland), Swimming Great Glen Way
2. Brenton Williams (South Africa), Deep Blue Flying
3. Dan Projansky (USA), Flying Down The Red River
4. Dutch Ladies First (Netherlands), English Channel Relay Record
5. Frank Flowers (Cayman Islands), Blossoming In The Cayman Islands
6. Haley Anderson (USA), Silver Lining At the Olympics
7. James Pittar (Australia), Shelley Beach Swim
8. Juan Ignacio Martínez Fernández-Villamil (Spain), The Heart of Navia
9. Lexie Kelly (USA), Open Water Swimming Archivist
10. Night Train Swimmers (USA/New Zealand), SF to SB Relay
11. Penny Palfrey (Australia), Marathon Adventurer
12. Philippe Coizon (France), Bering Strait Crossing
13. Saint Martin Island Long Distance Channel Swimming in Bangladesh
14. Stephen Redmond (Ireland), Tsugaru Channel Crossing
15. Trent Grimsey (Australia), English Channel Record

Online voting will take place here at WOWSA until December 31st.

Palfrey is one of the world’s most adventurous and accomplished marathon swimmers, specializing in channel swims around the world. She is a mother of three, a grandmother of one, and a 2010 inductee as an Honour Swimmer in the International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame. The member of the 24-hour club is originally from England with dual citizenship of Australia.

Formerly a world-class pool swimmer, Palfrey has reached her stride in channel swimming as she has set records in the Strait of Gibraltar, Molokai Channel (12 hours 7 minutes) and Santa Barbara Channel as well as completed swims in the Cook Strait, English Channel, Catalina Channel, Tsugaru Channel, and Molokai Channel. She has completed 6 out of the 7 channels of the Oceans Seven and various other swims including Lake Taupo in Australia and the Cayman Brac Channel in the Caribbean Sea. She also attempted a 168-kilometer swim from Cuba to Florida across the Florida Strait, an even greater distance than her successful 67-mile Bridging The Cayman Islands swim.

A list of her swims is posted here.

Copyright © 2012 by Open Water Source

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