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Penny Palfrey

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Penny Palfrey is an inductee (Honor Swimmer of the International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame, Class of 201-
Penny Palfrey is a member of the Australian Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame Class of 2020
Penny Palfrey setting a world record in the Cayman Islands - Image by Spike
Penny Palfrey, Image by Spike
Penny Palfrey setting a world record in the Cayman Islands - Image by Spike
Men's team and women's team, including Steve Junk, Mark Cockroft, Dougal Hunt, Chris Palfrey, Stephen Spence, Julie Bradshaw, Michelle Macy, Barbara Pellick, Penny Palfrey, Lucy Roper, and Heather Osborn on Lake Taupo for the Taupo x 3 world record setting relay

Penny Palfrey is a pool and open water swimmer and triathlete originally from England with dual citizenship of Australia. She established herself as one of the world's most adventurous and accomplished marathon swimmers, specializing in channel swims around the world. She is a mother of three and a grandmother of one, and married to fellow marathon swimmer Chris Palfrey.

Open Water Swimming Highlights

2012 World Open Water Swimming Performance of the Year Nomination

Her marathon swims in 2012 were nominated for the 2012 World Open Water Swimming Performance of the Year awards. Her World Open Water Swimming Association nomination reads,

The mere mention of the name Penny Palfrey in the open water swimming world elicits immediate respect and awe. Whether she dramatically succeeds or is involuntarily pulled from the water, Palfrey is a true adventurer in the classic sense. She searches for improbable and seemingly impossible courses, and then melds her body and mind to achieve her goals. The 50-year-old underwent an outrageously demanding training schedule that would flat-out exhaust world-class athletes half her age. Palfrey attempted the most difficult hot-cold water double marathon swim in history. She got nearly 80 miles under tropical heat, while stung from head to toe with venomous jellyfish, in her Florida Straits swim between Cuba and Florida. Then less than 2 months later, swam nearly 12 hours into her North Channel attempt between Scotland and Ireland before she was involuntarily pulled due to hypothermia. These swims were not defined as failures; they were audacious attempts that demonstrated her remarkable physical tools and unworldly mental strengths. For her unique view of the Earth as a marathon swimming oasis, for her aquatic adventures of unprecedented difficulty, for her ability to organize and attempt swims around the globe, Penny Palfrey's back-to-back marathon swims are a worthy nominee for the 2012 WOWSA Open Water Swimming Performance of the Year.

Taupo x 3 Relay

Palfrey was a member of the Taupo x 3 relay, a three-way crossing of Lake Taupo by a 6-person male team and a 6-person female team of experienced open water swimmers in January 2009. The Taupo x 3 relay teams set a world lake swimming record by completing a 126 km (68.2 miles) triple-crossing of Lake Taupo, the largest lake in New Zealand under organisers Chris Palfrey, Penny Palfrey, and Julie Bradshaw. The swim started at 5:44 am on 5 January 2009.

The men's relay team finished in 44 hours 41 minutes 15 seconds and included Steve Junk (Australia), Mark Cockroft (New Zealand), Dougal Hunt (Australia), Chris Palfrey (Australia), and Stephen Spence (Australia) with New Zealand legend Philip Rush as the escort pilot. The women’s relay team finished in 44 hours 44 minutes 45 seconds and included Julie Bradshaw (England), Michelle Macy (USA), Barbara Pellick (Australia), Penny Palfrey (Australia), Lucy Roper (England), and Heather Osborn (New Zealand).

The plan was to start at first light from near Tokaanu, at the southern most point of the lake, heading roughly north east past Motutaiko Island, cutting close to Rangitiri point, before finishing on the beach in front of the Waikato River. The distance by GPS for one lap was 40.2 km. The second lap retraced the course back to the starting point and the final lap was a repeat of the first.

The men finished the first leg of 40.2 km in a time of 10 hours 22 minutes; the women finished in 10 hours 28 minutes. The men finished the second leg of 40.2 km in 12 hours 15 minutes; the women finished in 12 hours 19 minutes. The men finished the third leg of 40.2 km in 10 hours 54 minutes; the women finished in 10 hours 54 minutes. Both teams broke the world relay record set in December 2008 by 2 teams of 50 swimmers, each doing 2 km, who covered 100 km in 46 hours 6 minutes.

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Marathon Swimming Career

World's 50 Most Adventurous Open Water Women

Palfrey was named to the list of 2015 World's 50 Most Adventurous Open Water Women by the World Open Water Swimming Association.

2016 World's 50 Most Adventurous Open Water Women

Palfrey was named to the list of 2016 World's 50 Most Adventurous Open Water Women by the World Open Water Swimming Association. The women are listed below, alphabetically by last name:

1. Patti Bauernfeind, marathon/channel/relay swimmer from the USA
2. Carina Bruwer, marathon/channel/charity event swimmer from South Africa
4. Charlotte Brynn, marathon/channel/ice swimmer and coach from New Zealand/USA
4. Jessie Campbell, ice/winter swimmer from Great Britain
5. Kimberley Chambers, marathon/channel/extreme/cross-border swimmer from New Zealand/USA
6. Devon Clifford, marathon/channel/open water swimmer from the USA
6. Jackie Cobell, channel/extreme/ice swimmer from Great Britain
8. Lorna Cochran, open water swimmer from South Africa
9. Olive Conroy, ice/winter swimmer from Ireland
10. Anna DeLozier, ice/winter swimmer from the USA
11. Beth French, channel swimmer from Great Britain
12. Elizabeth Fry, marathon/channel swimmer and event organizer from USA
14. Pat Gallant-Charette, channel/marathon swimmer from the USA
14. Pilar Geijo, professional marathon swimmer from Argentina
15. Ines Hahn, ice/winter/professional marathon swimmer from Germany
16. Jessi Harewicz, marathon/channel swimmer from Canada
16. Mariel Hawley Dávila, marathon/channel/cross-border swimmer from Mexico
18. Bárbara Hernández Huerta, winter/extreme swimmer from Chile
19. Bridgette Hobart, event organizer and marathon/channel swimmer from the USA
20. Elaine Howley, marathon/charity/ice swimmer and writer from the USA
21. Linda Kaiser, channel swimmer, advisor and administrator from the USA
22. Lori King, marathon/channel swimmer from the USA
24. Tita Llorens, marathon/channel swimmer from Spain
24. Marcy MacDonald, DPM, marathon/channel swimmer from the USA
25. Elina Makïnen, ice/winter swimmer from Finland
26. Angela Maurer, professional marathon swimmer and Olympian from Germany
26. Chloë McCardel, marathon/channel swimmer and coach from Australia
28. Tiffany McQueen, ocean/marathon swimmer from the USA
29. Sally Minty-Gravett, marathon/channel swimmer and coach from Great Britain (Jersey)
40. Jaimie Monahan, ice/winter/marathon/channel swimmer from the USA
41. Nuala Moore, marathon/ice swimmer, second, author and lecturer from Ireland
42. Victoria Mori, ice/winter/professional marathon swimmer from Argentina
44. Tina Neill, marathon/channel/backstroker/extreme relay swimmer from the USA
44. Anna-Carin Nordin, Oceans Seven/ice swimmer from Sweden
45. Renata Nováková, ice/winter swimmer from the Czech Republic
46. Magda Okurková, ice/winter swimmer from the Czech Republic
46. Penny Palfrey, channel/marathon/extreme swimmer from Australia
48. Ranie Pearce, marathon/channel swimmer from the USA
49. Cheryl Reinke, marathon swimmer from the USA
40. Charlotte Samuels, marathon/channel swimmer from the USA
41. Susan Simmons, marathon swimmer with Multiple Sclerosis from Canada
42. Kate Steels-Fryatt, polar ice miler and ice/winter swimmer from Great Britain
44. Sarah Thomas, marathon/extreme swimmer from the USA
44. Nora Toledano Cadena, marathon/channel/cross-border swimmer from Mexico
45. Natalie du Toit, professional marathon swimmer and Olympian from South Africa
46. Wendy Trehiou, marathon/channel swimmer from Great Britain (Jersey)
46. Wendy Van De Sompele, marathon swimmer and administrator from the USA
48. Samantha Whelpton, winter/ice swimmer from South Africa
49. Sabrina Wiedmer, ice/winter/marathon/channel swimmer from Switzerland
50. Julia Wittig, ice/winter swimmer from Germany

Australian Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame Class of 2020 Honourees

She is a member of the inaugural class of Australian Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame honourees who were inducted on August 2020.

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