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Extraordinary distance swimmer to discuss her accomplishments

POUGHKEEPSIE, N.Y. (September 27, 2004) – Arguably the greatest open- and cold-water swimmer the world has ever seen, Lynne Cox will discuss her life experiences in the Villard Room at Vassar College on Thursday, October 7, at 7:30 p.m. Cox has written widely about both the experience of swimming and her extraordinary feats in the open water, and earlier this year she published the highly praised autobiography, "Swimming to Antarctica - Tales of a Long Distance Swimmer."

At the ages of 15 and 16, Cox broke both the men's and women's world records for swimming the English Channel (a 33-mile crossing in nine hours and thirty-six minutes). In 1987, she was the first person to swim the Bering Strait, the channel that forms the boundary between the United States and Russia, effectively opening the U.S.-Soviet border for the first time in 48 years. Her journey through 38-degree Fahrenheit water, without the aid of a wet suit, protective cage, or lanolin grease, even had an impact on the Cold War.

"She proved by her courage how closely to each other our people live," Soviet premier Mikhail Gorbachev said of Cox, while signing the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) treaty with U.S. president Ronald Reagan later that same year.

Cox has swum across some of the highest, coldest, and most difficult waterways in the world: she was the first woman to swim across Cook Straits, the Strait of Magellan (the most treacherous three-miles stretch of water in the world), and the Cape of Good Hope. Her 2002 swim in frigid Antarctic waters was covered by the television program 60 Minutes II, and inspired the title of her new autobiography.

"We wanted to bring Lynne Cox here because she is one of the great exemplars of human possibility," explained John Schoonbeck, director of Blegen House, a Vassar College center for the study of social change. "When she risked her life swimming the Bering Strait, it had artistic as well as political and athletic meaning. When she writes of swimming among flying fish 'the size of mockingbirds,' you can see why she gets published in The New Yorker."

Cox's 5-foot 6-inch, 180-pound frame has a body density precisely that of seawater, and her 36% body fat (normal range is from 18% to 25%) gives her natural buoyancy, so that her energy can be used for propulsion and not to keep herself afloat.

In 2000, Lynne Cox was inducted into the International Swimming Hall of Fame. In addition to her own swimming and writing, she is a popular motivational speaker, and teaches swimming technique both in the pool and open water.

For more information, please contact John Schoonbeck, Director of Blegen House, at (914) 456-0833. Individuals with disabilities requiring accommodations should contact Cathy Jennings in the Office of Campus Activities at (845) 437-5370.

Vassar College is a highly selective, coeducational, independent, residential, liberal arts college founded in 1861.

Posted by Office of Communications Monday, September 27, 2004