First of all, let me just say that I loved the original story about Jennifer Figge’s amazing feat because she’s 56 years old (so cool!) and the story said she swam 2100 miles from the Cape Verde islands off the coast of Africa to Trinidad in 24 days (Amazing!). The story also included fascinating details, like how and when she took breaks to eat, what inspired her to try the swim, what she was thinking about while she swam, and what marine life she saw on her trip.
From Associated Press: Figge woke most days around 7 a.m., eating pasta and baked potatoes while she and the crew assessed the weather. Her longest stint in the water was about eight hours, and her shortest was 21 minutes. Crew members would throw bottles of energy drinks as she swam; if the seas were too rough, divers would deliver them in person. At night she ate meat, fish and peanut butter, replenishing the estimated 8,000 calories she burned a day.
Since the story came out, nit-pickers have rained on Figge’s parade by pointing out that swimming 2100 miles in 24 days is physically impossible; that even if Michael Phelps swam at his fastest pace 24 hours a day without stopping would take 21 days. It turns out Figge swam 250 miles. Of course, I’m impressed by swimming 250 miles because I’m a sedentary person and when I try to swim, I get a mouth full of water. But this story’s retraction is discouraging for many reasons. First off, we need all the good news we can get these days; we need to read about people triumphing in the face of adversity. To learn that the original news story about Figge was so grossly exaggerated is a let down. But what the hell happened at the AP? Was she complicit in falsifying her swim? Or should we start rolling our eyes at AP stories from now on?