Elizabeth Almond’s Epic Summer: Around The World In 84 days

Courtesy of WOWSA, English Channel.

46-year-old Elizabeth Almond from Georgia completed the Triple Crown of Open Water Swimming in 84 days, the 7th fastest period to complete a crossing of the English Channel, a crossing of the Catalina Channel, and a circumnavigation swim around Manhattan Island.

Her husband Jeff Gravitt reported, “Beginning on June 1st, Elizabeth placed 5th in the 20 Bridges Swim, a 45.9 km circumnavigation swim around Manhattan Island in New York City in 7 hours 43 minutes. She continued 23 days later with a 32.3 km crossing of the Catalina Channel in 14 hours 19 minutes when she was surrounded by a pod of playful dolphins. She finished a 33.4 km crossing of the English Channel on August 24th in 12 hours 1 minute.”

She discussed her unexpected, but quickly planned, Triple Crown accomplishment:

Daily News of Open Water Swimming: Of the 3 swims in the Triple Crown, which was the most difficult and why?

Open Water Swimming: Catalina was the most difficult due to recovering from illness, lack of rest and ocean currents.

Daily News of Open Water Swimming: Why was the most enjoyable and why?

Open Water Swimming: Difficult call between English Channel and 20 Bridges but, I’ll go with the 20 Bridges Swim due to all the comradery and amazing organization. And it was my first major marathon swim.

Daily News of Open Water Swimming: Were you thinking the same thing at the start of each of the 3 swims?

Open Water Swimming: No. I had turned down a quiet swim around Manhattan Island and was just so thankful I was going to get the full experience with all the swim community even though I was #28 on the waitlist. Seems my number came up only due to cold water temperatures which was another concern I had. In Catalina, I was still riding the high of 20 Bridges and had just crewed for a friend in Catalina (the week after New York City) so my only thought was this is going to be a lot of fun. On the English Channel, due to a slow Catalina swim, I didn’t want to think in terms of time so I simply was thinking just finish and enjoy the experience.

Daily News of Open Water Swimming: Did you eat and drink the same things during each of the 3 swims?

Open Water Swimming: I switched between Infinite, Maxim and Carbo Pro for the swims. I’m still searching for something that does make me sick after around the 8-hour mark. Also Twinkies as treats was great and on the English Channel swim I discovered Jelly Babies – love Them!

Daily News of Open Water Swimming: Why did you complete the 3 swims so quickly? It just happened! It really wasn’t planned. Were there reasons for completing the Triple Crown in 84 days?

Open Water Swimming: I was originally scheduled to swim the English Channel in late July of 2017 but, when my coach passed away in 2017, my boat pilot was kind enough to reschedule my attempt to a neap tide in August 2019. As my attempt approached, I decided to apply for 20 Bridges thinking I really needed a big swim prior to English Channel. When I was given an waitlist number of #28, I decided I would run around the Manhattan Island if I couldn’t swim around it. So I applied to run the New York City Marathon. When I didn’t get into the marathon, I booked the Catalina Channel 2 month prior to the English Channel. Then in mid-May of this year, I received an email saying there was a slot on June 1st for the 20 Bridges Swim. Being at the point in my training for Catalina that I felt I could complete 20 Bridges Swim, we dedicated why not make it a truly epic summer schedule.

Daily News of Open Water Swimming: Was Jeff with you on each of your 3 swims?

Open Water Swimming: Jeff is my husband and assumed the role coach. While he can barely swim, he was great at motivation, crewing and emotional support.

Also for Catalina and English Channel, my sister Lori Almond assumed the role of Crew Chief and I’ll never forget the moment we had as she swam the last few 100 meters into the French shore at Cap Gris-Nez with me.


Daily News of Open Water Swimming: At the most difficult point of the swims, how did you overcome the difficulties – either mental or physical – that you were facing at the time?

Open Water Swimming: I’ve only swam 2 swims over 8 hours and I still struggle with the wall which materializes at 10-11 hours. I tend to vocalize my frustrations and then carry on. While my crew in Catalina seemed to find this amusing, I’m not so sure my boat pilot on the English Channel felt the same way.

Daily News of Open Water Swimming: How did you train for this 84-day period?

Open Water Swimming: Lots and lots of pool time. I live in Atlanta and there isn’t a good place to train for open water swims. The lake is not only too warm, it is also too far away considering the amount of training needed. During training, I ramped up twice to 55,000 yards per week.

Daily News of Open Water Swimming: How did you train between the time of the 20 Bridges Swim and the English Channel?

Open Water Swimming: Well there was Catalina 3 weeks after 20 Bridges. After Catalina, I took a week off, then started my training at 30,000 yards per week and increased 10,000 yards every week. I had my former coaches’ plans, but they were designed for only the English Channel so I was really just winging it.

Daily News of Open Water Swimming: Do you have any recovery methods that you particularly liked?

Open Water Swimming: Taking Ibuprofen mid-swim really helped. I took it at 8 hours on the English Channel and recovery has been easy. I didn’t take it in Catalina and recovery wasn’t as easy.

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