Jaimie Monahan, Marathon Swimming Around the World: Six Continents in 16 Days

Photo Courtesy: Arik Thormahlen

Jaimie Monahan, Marathon Swimming Around the World: Six Continents in 16 Days

By Ned Denison

Jaimie Monahan has staked major claims in the sport of open water swimming.

She is an honoree in the International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame (2018), Ice Swimming Hall of Fame (2019), “Queen of Around Manhattan” with 32 swims, first ever four-time Manhattan circumnavigation and first to complete the “Ice Sevens Challenge”.

Hidden in the list was a world tour.  Inspired by the early explorers, she created a challenge to take advantage of modern conveniences like quick and comfortable air travel, easy hotel bookings, and amazing innovations like the Oru portable origami kayak.  Her idea was based on the World Marathon (running) Challenge, to set a Guinness World Record by completing six marathon swims on six continents.

A marathon swim is defined as a non-stop swim in open bodies of water of at least 10 km (6.2 miles) in distance.

Monahan swam under the provisions of the “Channel Swimming Association rules,” which prohibit any aid to heat retention (such as a wetsuit or neoprene cap), so she was only allowed a standard swimsuit, silicone cap, silicone earplugs, goggles and sun protection (zinc).

Jaimie Monahan was unaware of a similar tour by International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame and International Swimming Hall of Fame Honoree Lynne Cox, her quest to promote world peace, reported in Swimming World Magazine – November 1985.  Cox’s tour was an around the world in 80 days including Los Angeles, Washington DC, Iceland, Gibraltar, Messina, Aegean, Bosporus, Beijing, Mt. Fuji, Alaska, San Francisco, and New York.

Monahan’s six swims are detailed below :

She was accompanied by her partner Arik Thormahlen and met up with boat crews and observers in each location.  Their highlights included enjoying amazing adventures with old and new friends around the world, great swims, and the Guinness World Record.

The challenges and surprises were substantial.

The first swim was supposed to be in New York – but was called off due to adverse weather.

Jaimie hit an adverse current in Columbia after five hours which necessitated a diversion into very shallow, hot, and smelly (naturally) water next to mangrove roots.  A swimmer tries not to remember this is often the home of aggressive bull sharks.


Photo Courtesy: Arik Thormahlen

From hot 30-degree water to “fresh” 15-degree water in Sydney and back to hot water in Singapore – just call it a different swimming experience.

Near the end of the swim in Singapore the boat broke down and they had to have another boat come to rescue.

Egypt presented the greatest challenges.  They landed in Cairo and then flew to the resort of Sharm El Sheikh.  This swim was cancelled so they went back to Cairo to try and reschedule – no luck.  So, they headed on to Alexandria and a new plan – but it didn’t quite play out as expected:  The start was boat to boat to boat but because the President of Egypt was visiting the waterfront (and further boat traffic was forbidden for security reasons) their escort ended up as a jet ski.  Then she met a smack of large white stinging jellyfish (called Rhopilema Nomadica).  Darkness arrived and the swim went long because she needed to swim back 2km against the current to the hotel.  Arriving at 11pm, she enjoyed some relief in a hot bath, but then rushed to get to the airport by 3 a.m.

More Open Water News

Jaimie Monahan had completed two single laps of Manhattan and a double lap before starting her fifth lap around the island.  Her home waters took a turn for the worse as two massive cruise ships pulled out of their piers causing a 40-minute delay in a shallow muddy cove during her longest Manhattan Island circumnavigation swim to date.  She missed the last of the expected tidal push and finished the long trip in the dark.

Around the world:  Six swims, six continents, and 26,000 miles of travel in 16 days.  Monahan wasn’t idle in early 2018 with ice miles in Antarctica (March 2018) and Greenland (July 2018) – so she completed exciting swims on all seven continents, and both ends of the earth in just six months.


Photo Courtesy: Arik Thormahlen

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Sal Minty-Gravett
Sal Minty-Gravett
2 months ago

Amazing Jaimie

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