Swimming: She’s No Slug

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Outside Magazine, February 1995

Swimming: She’s No Slug
By Todd Balf (with Martin Dugard)

Taking advantage of unusually fine conditions, last November Karen Burton of Monument, Colorado, broke both the men’s and women’s records for the 22-mile Catalina Channel crossing, American open-water swimming’s most coveted prize. “It was perfect — flat as a pancake,” she says. The 32-year-old left Doctor’s Cove at 12:05 A.M. on the tenth and arrived on the rocky shores of
Rancho Palos Verdes seven hours, 43 minutes, and six seconds later. Her time beat the women’s record of 8:33, set almost 20 years ago by Penny Lee Dean, and the men’s mark of 8:14:46, set last year by English Channel record holder Chad Hundeby. While Hundeby had trickier conditions than Burton did, he didn’t begrudge his friend’s result. Says Burton: “Chad said he was glad I broke
it, rather than some slug who didn’t know how to swim.” He certainly has a way with words.

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