If we had to make a theoretical all-star relay of great female open water swimmers to swim across any of the Oceans Seven channels (English Channel, Catalina Channel, Molokai Channel, Strait of Gibraltar, North Channel, Cook Strait or Tsugaru Channel), it would be an extremely difficult choice.
The theoretical team would be a combination of swimmers with the highest levels of speed, power, endurance and navigational IQ, combined with an ability to adapt to any situation and meld with other athletes from around the world.
Starting off with Gertrude Ederle as the Honorary Captain, we would fill out the 6-woman roster with a coach and pace swimmers from the following historical luminaries of the sport with each woman bringing a different set of talents to the team:
1. Shelley Taylor-Smith (Australia): speed and grit characterize this 7-time professional marathon swimming champion who can handle any condition and situation.
2. Penny Dean (U.S.A.): night or day, swells or tranquility, cold or warm, the dual English and Catalina Channel record holder has the speed and endurance to enhance any team of historic all-stars.
3. Greta Andersen [shown above] (Denmark/U.S.A.): the 2-time Olympic medalist is as fast and tough as can be, comparatively speaking in any generation.
4. Yvetta Hlaváčová (Czech Republic): when it comes to channel swimming, the statuesque swimmer would fly through the water effortlessly and as quick as anyone
5. Larisa Ilchenko (Russia): when it comes to flat, all-out speed, there is no one better in the open water than the Olympic marathon swimming champion
6. Keri-Anne Payne (South Africa/Great Britain): in addition to her flat-out speed, endurance and unparalleled navigational IQ, her eloquence and personality would be an asset to the team when meeting with the media and general public.
* Freda Streeter (Great Britain): her motivational skills would bring out the best of the group.
* Lynne Cox (U.S.A.): her demeanor and experience would help meld the team in a fantastic group of like-minded individuals working towards a common goal.
* Alison Streeter (Great Britain): her channel swimming experience is unparalleled and her ability in rough, cold conditions would serve to help the team.
* Judith van Berkel-de Nijs (Netherlands): the professional marathon swimmer has the speed, guts and experience to push the boundaries of the team’s achievement.
* Mercedes Gleitze (Great Britain): her can-do sense and her willingness to do the unprecedented as well as help her mates is unmatched.
* Cindy Nicholas (Canada): her experience and speed in any conditions can help the team reached their potential.
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