Zappe said she was advised to not take the family along as her helpers and was fortunate to have three reliable friends who were willing to make the trip.

“I was lucky I had three very good friends who sacrificed and went with me for 19 days,” she said.

The rules of most marathon swims are simple. You can’t wear a wetsuit; gear is limited to a normal swimsuit, cap, and goggles. You can’t use the boat for physical support, only navigation and to have someone toss you sustenance.

Once every half hour, Zappe someone on the boat would toss her a bottle with an energy drink made from a powdered mix. The bottle, with a line attached, would then be roped back onto the boat.


“I had to flip over on my back like an otter,” and kick while gulping down the drink, Zappe said.

Her training paid off. The night after the swim, her shoulders became incredibly sore, Zappe said, and she iced them and slept a lot for the next two days before returning to the states.

“I think I was well prepared for it, things didn’t hurt that much while I was doing it,” Zappe said. “The week after I got home I was very foggy. I was upright, but thinking about napping all the time.”

Zappe plans to continue coaching and giving swim lessons, although she said she wants to move into coaching more specifically for long-distance and open water swimmers. She’s also interested in writing; during long swims, she would map out books.

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