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February 11, 2009

AP Duped By Absurd Claim of Woman Swimming Across the Atlantic

Multiple layers of painstaking editorial fact-checking.

The real issue stemmed from the fact that swimming 2,100 miles in 25 days is impossible. (Some newspapers picked up on this.) It's infinitely more impossible when somebody only spends 21 minutes swimming during one of those 25 days. Michael Phelps swimming his fastest would take about 20 days to cover that distance. And that's his fastest pace, sustained for three weeks, without ever stopping. Impossible.

Yet, somehow, the AP ran the story even though a few seconds of thought and a pocket calculator was enough to disprove it.

So, did she swim the whole 2,100 miles, even if at a slower pace?

Almost:

The Associated Press reported erroneously that she had swum across the ocean. Figge swam only a fraction of the 2,100-mile journey. The rest of the time, she rested on her crew's westward-sailing catamaran. Her spokesman, David Higdon, told The AP on Tuesday that her total swimming distance has not been calculated yet, but that due to ocean hazards including inclement weather, he estimates she swam about 250 miles.

250 miles, 2,100 miles. Potato, pohtahtoh.



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posted by Ace at 03:47 PM

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