Shelley Taylor-Smith swam 90 km from Sydney to Wollongong in Australia in an attempt to replicate Des Renford‘s pioneering swim of the same distance and course, she was shocked with the elements and blue bottles that she faced.
She not only asphyxiated on boat fumes from her inflatable escort boats, but she also ingested the venomous blue bottles (smaller Portuguese man o wars).
On her second attempt one week later, she adjusted to the blooms of blue bottles by wearing tights (stockings) to keep the stingers off of her. She made a hole in the crotch and put it over her head and wore the leg stockings as arms. She also wore the stockings on her legs, but cut the feet out.
She also put mesh on the front of her cage in order to disintegrate the blue bottles when they hit the front of her cage in mass quantities.
While her swim did not follow the rules of the marathon swimming world, the English Channel swimmer who also won dozens of professional marathon swims around the world including 5 Manhattan Island Mararathon Swims did in order to protect herself. Ingesting a blue bottle as well as getting stung relentlessly by the Portuguese man o war is an experience that will drive any human for self-protection and self-preservation.
Her story is included in her autobiography, Dangerous When Wet.
Copyright © 2011 by Open Water Source