Tired after swimming a few swimming pool lengths? Then swimming across the Atlantic is probably not for you! But believe it or not, it has (kinda) been done. Or if it seems too much work, one could just swim America's great swimming holes instead.

Firstly it is a physical impossibility for a human to swim non-stop across the Ocean. So people who claim to have swum it, tend to do something like swim 4 hours at a go twice a day and then sleep on an accompanying boat. The boat is of course not static so it's possible that the boat will have moved substantially in the 16 hours a day that the swimmer spends on board.


Claims of Swimming The Atlantic



Just keep swimming

Just keep swimming

Life isn't all that grim!...

What do we do?


We swim?...

Finding Memo - 2003

There have been at least three claimed crossings of the Atlantic.

  • Guy Delage: Swam from Cape Verde Islands to Barbados in 1994
  • Jennifer Figge: Swam from Cape Verde Islands to Trinidad in 2009
  • Benoît Lecomte: Swam from Hannis, Massachusett to Quiberon, France in 1998

None of these crossings have been officially recognized by the Guinness World Book of Records.

But why limit one's self to just swimming the Atlantic? The sky is the limit to how many ways people can dream up on how to cross this great expanse. The following were all reported by the BBC in 1998 - who can add more to the list in the 24 years since then?

  • Rowing: John Fairfax Became the First Person To Row Across the Atlantic Single-Handed in 1969
  • Rubber Dingy: Alain Bombard Was The First To Cross on a Rubber Dingy in 1952
  • "Skiing": Remy Bricka "Skiied" Across the Atlantic On Polyester Floats in 1988
  • Sailing Junk: Three "Artists" Sailed Across On a 50-Foot Boat Made Completely Of Junk Accompanied by Their Three Dogs
  • Windsurfing: Jason Gilbert Completed a 2,200 Mile Three-Man Journey From Newfoundland to Dorset (First Thing He Wanted At the End Was to Get a Pint)

Related: Big Major Cay In The Bahamas Is Where You Can Swim With Pigs, And Here's What You Can Expect

Benoît Lecomte's Crossing

Lecomte undertook this undertaking from 16 July to 25 September 1998. He swam in stages from Massachusetts to France and stopped for a much-needed week-long stopover in Portugal's Azores. Unlike swimming the Atlantic, visiting the Azores is something everyone reading this can do!

This journey lasted 73 days and stretched for 3,716 miles or 5,980 kilometers (or 3,229 nautical miles for the sailor-minded of folks out there).

  • Duration: 73 Days
  • Distance: 3,716 Miles or 5,980 Kilometers

On this mighty crossing, Lecomte was accompanied by a 40-foot sailboat emitting an electromagnetic field to ward off the sharks. He was accompanied by a crew of three on the sailboat.

He rested and ate on the boat and spent an average of 8 hours a day swimming. The stated reason for the swim was to raise money for cancer research as a tribute to his father.

Despite his swim not being recognized by the Guinness World Records, that didn't dissuade the BBC from running the headline "Swimmer conquers Atlantic" stating:

"The first person to swim across the Atlantic Ocean has finally arrived at the French coast on Friday afternoon after 73 days at sea."

The main issue for the Guinness World Records is that there is no set definition of what "swimming across the Atlantic" actually means. There is uncertainly about the distance that Lecomte actually swam as when he was on the boat the prevailing currents would have carried the boat for notable distances.

The Rocky Mountain News noted he would have had to have averaged 8 mph (13 kilometers per hour or 3.6 meters per second) to have swum the entire distance. That is a physical impossibility and 3 to 4 times faster than other long-distance swimmers.

Related: How To Find Santa Rosa Blue Hole, A Natural Swimming Pool

It's Not Easy: Ben Hooper's Plan to Swim The Atlantic

In 2017 the Guardian ran an article of Ben Hooper (see the article for the full story) a 38-year-old former cop who attempted to splash his way across the Atlantic. His plan had been to swim the 2,000 miles from Senegal in Africa to Brazil.

At the time he first stepped into the water he looked rather podgy and thickset. This was because he spent the last year bulking up and building up his fat reserved that conceal his muscle beneath.

The plan was to swim 12 miles a day for over 140 days straight and was the culmination of three years of planning.

  • The Plan: 12 Miles A Day For 140 Days
  • Lasted: He Lasted 21 Days Before Having A Near-Death Experience

But unfortunately, it didn't work out. At the start, he started to swim against the current which made it difficult to achieve significant mileage - one day he only managed 4.5 miles.

Things went badly wrong and the second support boat returned to dock refusing to continue with the expedition. As he continued his body was under attack and was being stung by small jellyfish which sapped his energy.

On day 21, Hooper swam blindly into the half-eaten remains of a venomous Portuguese-man-of-war, a jellyfish that causes paralyzed. This was the end of the attempt and returning he was a changed man having nearly died from the encounter.

Next: 'Swim' With Manatees On These Intimate Florida Tours!