After her Antarctic swim was postponed until next year because of the pandemic, the cold-water swimmer did not stop until breaking a Guinness World Record last weekend at Cape Horn. She became the first person in the world to swim three nautical miles between the Pacific and Atlantic oceans, breaking a speed record in the process.
The original goal of cold-water swimmer Bárbara Hernández was to deliver Chile the record for the longest-distance Antarctic swim in history. But the athlete has shown resilience in the face of any challenge. While the pandemic forced her to postpone her Antarctic swim until next year, Cape Horn in the Magallanes Region became the scene for her to hammer two other records last weekend, which will now be inscribed in the famous book of Guinness World Records.
Bárbara became the first person in the world to swim three nautical miles, or a total of 5,550 meters, between the Pacific and Atlantic oceans. At the same time, she broke the speed record for a nautical mile, swimming the distance in only 15 minutes and three seconds, to be awarded a first-time Guinness World Record.
“I’m happy and grateful for the opportunity to swim in such complex and significant waters. I want to thank the entire crew of the Chilean Navy’s PSG Isaza, as well as my team, who kept me safe, and everyone who has supported me. I love the Magallanes Region; it has meant a lot to me during my career, and this swim is a way of showing that nothing is impossible, that it’s always worth fighting for your dreams,” stated Bárbara, also known as the “Ice Mermaid”.
In an unprecedented act, the Chilean Navy provided a boat to sail to Cape Horn. Sunday, February 27 was the most favorable window of opportunity to complete the challenge, considering that the area’s climatic conditions are among the most adverse in the world.
The journey began in Punta Arenas, in a Beechcraft King Air 100 plane that left for Puerto Williams. The delegation then set sail in the early hours of Sunday morning on February 27, so that the swim could be attempted between 1pm and 3pm, following seven hours of sailing through the Bay of Nassau to arrive at Drake Passage, to the south of Hornos Island.
The 36-year-old swimmer and psychologist is passionate about a challenge. In 2021, in the middle of the pandemic, she completed two great feats: in May, she became the first South American woman to cross the Molokai Channel; then in August, she was the first Latin American woman to twice swim around Manhattan Island in New York. Last year, she was also chosen as Woman of the Year by the World Open Water Swimming Association and selected among the 100 Young Leaders by El Mercurio’s Sábado magazine. The Chilean athlete has received more than 100 medals throughout her career, and in 2017, 2018, and 2019 she came in first place in the International Winter Swimming Association ranking.
Bárbara is now looking to become the first South American woman to swim the seven seas. She has already swum four of them: the Strait of Gibraltar between Spain and Morocco; the Catalina Channel in the USA; the English Channel between France and England; and the Molokai Channel in Hawaii.
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