October 22, 2014

Chloe McCardel swam from Eleuthera (pictured) to Nassau.     Photo: shalamov/Thinkstock

Australian Completes Bahamas Marathon Swim

Dispute about whether it's a record

Australian swimmer Chloe McCardel successfully completed a 78-mile swim between two islands in the Bahamas on Wednesday. It took her 42.5 hours, which her support team says is the longest solo open-water continuous marathon swim in history.

According to the Associated Press, the 29-year-old McCardel set out on Monday from the southern tip of Eleuthera and made it to Nassau at 1 a.m. local time. For her attempt to qualify as a marathon swim under the Marathon Swimmer Federation (MSF) rules, the Melbourne native could not intentionally touch her support boat at any point during the trip. Once she reached Nassau, McCardel was taken in for a medical examination. She plans to stay in the Bahamas while she recuperates from the swim.

“I know she will take some time to recover from this massive achievement, which she has spent her entire swimming career preparing for,” said her husband, Paul McQueeney, in a statement. “She is elated at successfully setting this record in this way, and a very, very proud Australian.”

McCardel attempted to become the first person to swim from Cuba to Florida without a shark cage in June 2013 but had to call it off when she ran into a swarm of jellyfish, according to Zee News.

Some debate remains over what counts as the longest solo marathon swim. Evan Morrison, co-founder of the MSF, told the AP that technically the longest nonstop open-water swims have been in rivers, where swimmers benefited from having the current at their backs. However, he says those are not comparable to ocean swims like McCardel’s.

The previous non-current-assisted record holder would have been Zhang Jian, but her 76.5-mile swim in China’s Bohai Bay is not well documented. Veljko Rogosic is listed in Guinness World Records as having the longest ocean swim at 140 miles through the Adriatic in 2006, but again, Morrison told the AP that there is little documentation about that swim, and Rogosic likely would have had help from a strong, predictable current.

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Officials say they would put increased revenue toward improving the parks.     Photo: northwoodsphoto/Thinkstock

Yosemite and Rocky Mountain NPs Consider Fee Hike

Increased revenue would go to improving parks

Two of the West’s favorite national parks are considering increased admission prices in an effort to better handle their never-ending stream of visitors. On Monday, officials at Yosemite National Park outlined a proposed increase in a press release on the park’s website. The price of single-vehicle admission for seven days would increase from $20 to $30, and the park’s annual pass would increase from $40 to $60.

Yosemite officials pointed out that admissions have remained the same since 1997, and since then, the purchasing power of $20 has decreased by nearly $10, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics. Park representatives wrote that they would dedicate the increased revenue to improvements in resource protection, as well as to rehabilitation, repair, and maintenance of Yosemite’s visitor service buildings and transportation services.

Meanwhile, a similar set of changes at Rocky Mountain National Park may be underway. In addition to introducing a $20 single-day pass, a press release on Rocky Mountain NP’s website announced an increase in the weekly pass from $20 to $30. Like Yosemite, Rocky Mountain is proposing a price increase for its annual park pass to $50 and eventually to $60 by 2017. Campground fees, which park officials have compared to fees for similar services in nearby campgrounds, may also increase from $20 to $26 per night in 2016.

“We are committed to keeping Rocky Mountain National Park affordable and we also want to provide visitors with the best possible experience,” park superintendent Vaughn Baker said in a statement. “We feel that our proposed fee changes are still an incredible value when considering other family and recreational experiences one can enjoy.”

Yosemite’s public engagement period extends through November 20, and comments on the price increase at Rocky Mountain will be accepted until December 1. Visitors are encouraged to offer their feedback on the proposed changes by emailing Yosemite and Rocky Mountain directly.

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Book your hotel, flights, food, and requisite winery tour all in one go.     Photo: fcscafeine/ThinkStock

Yelp Launches In-Site Hotel and Winery Booking

Review site offers 28,000 companies' services through online booking portal

Yelp announced this week that users can book domestic hotel rooms and winery tours directly through its website and plans to add more services in coming months.

While select chains like La Quinta have been using pop-out ads within Yelp, this is the company’s first move to centralize bookings. On the back end, Hipmunk, the flight and hotel booking startup founded by Reddit’s Steve Huffman, will handle hotel reservations, and CellarPass will handle winery tour bookings.

The partnerships will give Yelp users a greater inventory from which to book, and they’ll even get special mobile rates. The move also enables Yelp to earn booking fees while avoiding the hassle of handling relationships with hundreds of companies.

As travel news source Tnooz notes, the fact that mobile users can book diverse services through one Yelp profile and enter credit card information only once facilitates an easier and much more efficient user experience.

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