She’s just swum one English Channel

photo: Christi Barli

Sunday 3:45am EST 12:02 Swim time

Steve Munatones returns from the Voyager, having spent 12 hours (“On a wet deck,” he says) observing and calling in hourly reports to the media team. He is the official observer of the swim and the editor in chief of the Daily News of Openwater Swimming.

The following quotes what he said upon his return.

“Diana was a bit frustrated at the start, she expected it to get flat, but it hasn’t been flat so far; it hasn’t been at all what she expected yet.” Diana has been swimming backstroke for the last three hours, in an effort to keep her face away from the stinging organisms that have been swarming during that time. Earlier, she was stung multiple times by box jellyfish, but treated in the water by jellyfish expert and researcher Angel Yanagihara from the University of Hawaii, who has invented a treatment salve she calls StingStopper.

“It’s gonna be tough at best,” says Steve Munatones. “Swimming backstroke for 3 hours. Unless Diana has trained using backstroke that’s a long time to do backstroke and not be affected. The kicking involved is using her quads a lot more. She’s dry heaving a lot now, I don’t know whether it’s the stings or all the sting stopper—it’s a lot of goop to absorbed by the bloodstream.

“She’s never cried out in pain like last time, though. She simply says, “I got hit.” You know, she’s got that childlike innocence—I got stung—wanting that acknowledged, and Bonnie’s got that maternal discipline to tell her, I know, but come nearer now, we’ll fix it, eat this, which works beautifully; I don’t see that between them on land, just on the swims.

“Diana has been stung down her back, lips, and her forehead and hand. Yet she’s traveling much better, covering more ground than in her last two swims. She’s within all John’s estimates to finish within 60 hrs.” [John is John Bartlett, the navigator.] “The course is flowing westward which is good. It’s keeping her on track for the keys. So there’s a lot of good in there with the bad.

“She’s plainly coherent; she’s conversing with people. The density of the stinging organisms is decreasing a lot, but Angel says that the box jellyfish can come here at anytime. And you don’t know when or where.

Also, 36,000 times her arms strokes have hit turbulence. People think that a one-foot wave is not as bad as a higher one, but it’s worse on a swimmer. A one-foot ocean swell is exactly the surface of the water and it’s exactly where your arm rises when taking a stroke. So instead of the arm sweeping over the water, it hits it, which is a lot of physical trauma over time.

“If this swim is the equivalent of five English Channels, and I think it is, in terms of time, she’s just swum one English Channel, 25 percent of it backstroke.”

–Steve Munatones interviewed by Candace Lyle Hogan aboard Quest

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