There is (almost*) no such thing as a “world record” in open water swimming.
The term “world record” implies that the activity being measured is comparable across different contexts (hence “world”). A 200m Butterfly swum at The Nat in Indianapolis can be compared to a 200m Butterfly swum at the beautiful new facility at Belmont Plaza, because both pools have been measured at 50m. A 200 Fly is a 200 Fly is a 200 Fly.
Open water swimming is, in most cases, not comparable across different contexts. And isn’t that a good thing? Isn’t that, at some level, why most of us are drawn to OWS in the first place?
A swim from Santa Rosa Island to my hometown of Goleta is not meaningfully comparable to the Manhattan Island Marathon Swim, despite both swims being 28 miles.
What about “world records” for specific swims? Obviously a Catalina Channel swim is incomparable to a Maui Channel swim, but surely a Catalina Channel swim is comparable to a Catalina Channel swim? Excluding weather and conditions, surely we can say that Penny Lee Dean swam the fastest crossing of the Catalina Channel (7 hours, 15 minutes, 55 seconds in 1976)?…