Longest Unassisted Open Water Swim

In October, 2014, Chloë McCardel, an Australian, set an Open Water World Record for the Longest Unassisted# Swim under Marathon Swimmers Federation international rules+.

She endured 12 jelly fish stings from a box jellyfish* just 12 hours into her swim through the Bahamas.

Wearing only a regulation swim suit, a swimming cap and goggles, the 29 year old took 41 hours 21 minutes to swim from Lighthouse Beach on the southern tip of Eleuthera Island in the Bahamas, and finishing at Nassau.  The jellyfish stings caused extreme pain and Chloë collapsed from the pain and from exhaustion as she reached an incredible 77.3 miles distance.

Since the swim ended about 1 am local time, she was greeted by only a small group of locals and the media, and was escorted by her husband and support crew for a medical check-up and few hours’ sleep.

The feat was over a mile short of her target, but still gave her enough distance to set the world record.

Box jellyfish

Box jellyfish

Her husband, who travelled alongside her on the support boat and scheduled her various pauses for food and water, said: “I know she will take some time to recover from this massive achievement which she has spent her entire swimming career preparing for.  She is elated at successfully setting this record in this way, and is a very, very proud Australian.”

To prepare for the challenge, Chloë had swum 43.5 to 62.1 miles every week.  Before embarking on this epic swim in October, 2014, her longest single swim was 62.1 miles in total.

In 2016 the International Swimming Hall of Fame awarded Chloë McCardel the Poseidon Award for her high level achievements.

In the single calendar year of 2015, Chloë posted an unprecedented set of marathon swimming accomplishments:

  • Triple crossing of the English Channel – 36 hours 12 minutes. This had not been accomplished in the previous 25 years.  Chloë became the fourth swimmer to accomplish this feat joining IMSHOF honor swimmers: Alison Streeter, Philip Rush and Jon Erikson.
  • Established record for three English Channel crossings in a week – all under 10 hours.

Chloë has been active in marathon swimming since 2009 with other noted accomplishments:

  • Her swim from Eleuratha to Nassau in the Bahamas in 41 hours 21 minutes, a distance of 77.3 miles was the longest, Marathon Swimmers Federation-approved unassisted solo marathon swim in history.
  • McCardel also won the 2010 Manhattan Island Marathon Swim in 7 hours 53 minutes.

 #Unassisted means without artificial assistance to performance, other than the standard equipment of the sport.  Any swim that benefits from assistance – in the form of nonstandard performance-enhancing equipment, supportive contact with the swimmer, or other violation of the spirit of unassisted marathon swimming – is considered an Assisted Swim.

+The Marathon Swimmers Federation rules say that,  “The swimmer may not make intentional supportive contact with any vessel, object, or support personnel at any time during the swim.”  “Standard Equipment” for swims is very specific.  Chloë’s feat was made more notable because she followed the rules.  Some distance swims are done in stages with rest in between.  Chloë did not get out of the water for the entire 41 hours and 21 minutes it took her to swim.

*The box jellyfish’s venom is among the most deadly in the world, containing toxins that attack the heart, nervous system, and skin cells.


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