Diana Nyad, a 61-year-old woman, has embarked on a 3-day 100-mile swim from Cuba to Florida.
While her aim is political in nature (she wants to "promote closer ties" between the US and Cuba), the athletic accomplishment is phenomenal. Indeed, when it comes to open water swimming, especially long distances, women on average have some physiological advantages over men and thus are capable of competing with and beating men's times. Penny Dean, who was inducted into the International Women's Hall of Fame, holds the world record time for crossing the Catalina Channel and, for 16 years, held the world record for crossing the English Channel until a man she coached beat her time.
Some speculate that women's average greater body fat percentage than men gives women advantages in buoyancy, warmth in cold waters, and energy conservation. Of course, hard work, strength, technique, and grit also have a lot to do with anyone's success in such events
(Others, I'm sure, will be quick to chime in that long-distance swimming isn't a real sport since Any Sport In Which A Woman Can Be The Best Is By Definition Not Even A Sport /sour grapes).
I'll just end this post by tipping my beret to Ms. Nyad. I wish her the best of luck in her impressive endeavor!
[UPDATE: This morning, after swimming for 29 hours and about 50 miles, Ms. Nyad abandoned her quest due to "ocean swells, shoulder pain, and asthma." I say it was a valiant attempt, anyway!]