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1987: Chilly swim thaws Cold War relations
An American woman has become the first person to swim from the United States to the Soviet Union.

Lynne Cox, 30, took two hours and six minutes to cross the Bering Strait which separates the Arctic and Pacific oceans - and the two superpowers.

She swam the 2.7 miles (4.3 km) from Alaska to Siberia in a bathing suit despite warnings the temperature of the water - which is frozen for most of the year - was dangerously low at around 5C.

Experts believe she succeeded because of a combination of determination and her own body fat which insulated her like a seal.

Ms Cox who weighs 13 stone, has about 36% body fat compared to the average for women of between 18-25%.


After completing the crossing Ms Cox said she was thrilled by the help she had received from the USSR.

"It's the best, it's more than I ever imagined - to have them open their door and let us land on their shore.

"Having that support from the Soviets and having them help us get into shore and meeting us was wonderful," she said.

The crossing was the latest in a series of endurance swims undertaken by Lynne Cox.

At the age of 14 she swam the 31- mile-wide (49 km) Catalina Channel in southern California.

In 1975 she became the first woman to swim the 14-mile (23km) Cook Straits in New Zealand in a time of just over 12 hours.

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Lynne Cox
Lynne Cox set her first swim record at the age of 14

In Context
After her arduous swim Lynne Cox became famous throughout the Soviet Union.

Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev praised her later that year during the signing of a nuclear weapons treaty in Washington DC.

"She proved by her courage how closely to each other our people live," Mr Gorbachev said.

But though she became a heroine in the Soviet Union her swim did not make that much of an impact at home - US President Ronald Reagan allegedly had no idea to whom Mr Gorbachev was referring.

Lynne Cox returned to the Soviet Union in 1988 to swim across Lake Baikal.

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