How long would it take to swim across the Atlantic Ocean?

by Eszter Hargittai on March 29, 2007

Google Maps has the answer for me if I am headed from Stanford to Budapest. The only part left for me to figure out is how much to subtract for driving from California to Massachusetts and then from France to Hungary. Subtracting that from 31 days 14 hours I should have the answer. Alternatively, I can do a search for Boston to Brest, France and calculate it from that although I don’t get why they’re making me reach the coast at Le Havre since that’s quite a bit of extra swimming. Google Maps estimates that trip at about 29 days 5 hours, which makes me wonder how they got 31 days 14 hours for the other trip.

Hmm.. maybe I’ll stick to flying.

(Skip down to direction #33 on the first map or #9 on the second if this is all too cryptic.)




Chris Bertram 03.29.07 at 10:59 am

If you were coming to visit me in Bristol, they’d _still_ make you swim to Le Havre. You’d be much better off coming ashore at Land’s End.


Ben 03.29.07 at 1:15 pm

This is silly. Surely it depends on how fast you can swim…


Barry 03.29.07 at 1:27 pm

Probably more endurance, weather, currents, icebergs, wave action, sharks, fishing nets. I imagine sheer swimming speed wouldn’t matter at all :)


Ben 03.29.07 at 2:03 pm

Ok, not sheer speed (as measured by, say, 100m in a pool) but how fast you can swim given endurance, weather, currents, icebergs, wave action, sharks, fishing nets, etc. Though I suppose ‘how long it takes you to swim the Atlantic depends on how quickly you can do it’ isn’t that informative a statement.


Benquo 03.29.07 at 4:13 pm

Mightn’t it be the gulf stream?


swampcracker 03.29.07 at 4:39 pm

Also depends on how many sharks are in the water.


mroberts 03.29.07 at 6:40 pm

Wow – that’s swimming nearly 120 miles per day! Good thing you’re going with the current. On the way back you get the same amount of time, but you have to go against the current, and do it in kilometers, which is more!!!


mroberts 03.29.07 at 6:42 pm

Weird, you put in three exclamation marks to show you are being ridiculous, but they get interpreted into a missing image!


Barry 03.29.07 at 7:06 pm

But imagine how buff you’d be! You’d arise from the water, and the local men would flee. The local women would come running (unless the seaweed accumulation was too thick, of course).

I wonder if the French Tourist Board was bribing Google here.


Isis 03.29.07 at 7:19 pm

Do you remember the ad (for VISA?) from the last summer Olympics, featuring Michael Phelps butterflying through rough water? He starts near the Statue of Liberty and then is seen arriving at somewhere that is obviously Greece. He stops, raises his head, and counts, a little out of breath, “One.”


djw 03.30.07 at 12:20 am

Huh. It won’t give me directions to anywhere in Asia. I guess the Pacific Ocean is just too big to swim across.


djw 03.30.07 at 12:22 am

Then again, it won’t send me from Miami to Havana either. Very Eurocentric view of Ocean-swimming they’ve got at google.


vivian 03.30.07 at 1:49 am

Okay, you could swim via France, but your web surfing would get sent by pigeon-packets? Or would they outsource to albatrosses?


Simone 03.31.07 at 8:52 am

They estimate it using the speed of the 100m freestyle world record.
I wrote a post about it a few days ago.


Ken Houghton 04.03.07 at 4:41 pm

What Simone Said. I don’t know about anyone else, but I don’t believe I could sustain swimming 4.9 mph for 29 days plus.

The realistic equivalent would be if they assumed all those highway miles were driven at about 160 mph or so.

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