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American swimmers plan transatlantic

Jan 1, 2003

We've rowed, sailed, motored, and even tried walking across oceans. But trans-ocean swimming hasn't been tried, at least not yet.

Regan Stacey-Scheiber, a 27-year-old Washington state native, hopes to recruit a total of eight swimmers for a 3,500-mile relay across the Atlantic next summer. Starting in New York, each swimmer will pull one, three-hour shift a day and cover a distance of about nine miles in ideal weather conditions. The trip will take an estimated two months and will end somewhere in England or France.

Scheiber and her friend and fellow competitor Karen Burton Reeder are trying to determine the shortest route with the best currents. While favoring the Gulf Stream's current and direction, she is also looking for warm, friendly water, since they won't be using either wetsuits or shark cages. "Our biggest concerns are weather conditions and water temperature," she said. "We hope the water gets no colder than 60°." In the event of severe weather the team would stop, mark the spot, and resume after conditions subsided. "We want to legitimately swim around the clock," she said.

Professional open-water races typically run between 25 and 42 kilometers, which an average competitor can finish in nine or 10 hours. But Scheiber said talk about an ocean crossing has long circulated among international competitors. "We've thought, 'What is the Mount Everest of open-water swimming?'" said Scheiber, who recently qualified for this November's open-water world championships. "One day I was just driving in my car, and I just said, 'You know what? I think we can really do this!'"

Scheiber estimates the cost of providing the swimmers with support vessels for two months will be about $1 million.