Last Thursday was Guinness World Record Day.
If you’re like me, you probably celebrated by being blissfully unaware.
If you’re Liz Fry though, it was a big deal. She was honored for 2 Guinness world records — and, for her amazing achievements, was featured on the book’s website.
The 1976 Staples High School graduate — who is as low-key as she is accomplished, so I would never have heard about this from her — was cited as both the oldest female to swim the Ocean Seven, and the oldest person of any gender to do it.
The Ocean Seven is no walk in the park. It’s a stupefying long-distance swim challenge, in some of the most difficult bodies of water in the world: the North Channel, Cook Strait, Molokai Channel, English Channel, Catalina Channel, Tsugaru Channel and Strait of Gibraltar.
Liz is 60 years old. In 5 years she can collect Social Security. But the checks will have to be delivered by boat.
According to the Guinness website:
Accomplishing one channel is no easy feat – aside from predators in the open ocean and varying water temperatures, one who tackles all seven channels must be prepared to swim for up to 12 hours or more at a time…. It’s as dangerous as it is courageous.
Plenty of planning goes into marathon swimming. There’s training, travel, a support crew, and understanding currents and sea creatures. Jellyfish can be as dangerous as sharks.
Liz’s sister Peggy — a 1975 Staples grad now living in Seattle — often serves as crew captain (and confidante). She makes sure Liz has everything she needs: feeding pack, medication, you name it.
Their father — a Brit who inspired her originally, with his tales of swimming the English Channel — was there when Liz climbed ashore, after that very brutal swim.
Liz — who is not a professional swimmer (with an undergraduate degree from the University of Connecticut and a master’s from Fordham, whe works with global markets on tax initiatives) — hopes that her Guinness record book honors will push other swimmers to achieve their own titles.
Record are made to be broken, of course. But Liz might go on breaking them too.
“I might be 60 years old when I have completed the Ocean Seven marathon, but I feel like I’m swimming like a 40-year-old,” she says.
“It just shows how 60 really is the new 40, or there’s no reason you ever have to stop doing what you love.”
Liz trains often at the Westport Weston Family Y — and in the summer, off Compo Beach. She may be remarkable, but there’s absolutely no reason to swim in Long Island Sound during the winter.
The next time you see her, tell her congratulations.
And if you happen to have a copy of the Guinness Book of World Records handy, ask Liz to autograph it.
(For the full story on the Guinness Book of World Records website, click here. Hat tip: Debbie McGinley)