22-year-old is youngest to row across an ocean

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After 70 days, 5 hours and 22 minutes on the Atlantic, 22-year-old Katie Spotz became the youngest person to row across an ocean alone and the first American to row unassisted from mainland to mainland.

Spotz, an endurance athlete who ran her first marathon at age 18, set out on the 2,817-mile passage Jan. 3 from Dakar, Senegal, and arrived March 14 in Georgetown, Guyana.

She raised more than $70,000 for the Blue Planet Run Foundation, which finances drinking-water projects around the world.

"I'm so glad I extended the journey 400 miles, as a part of me is holding on dearly to the simplicity of the sea," she wrote in her blog the day before reaching land. "During an interview, when asked what I think about while rowing - although my mind wanders here and there, for a large part of the journey I felt present; there's no need to think beyond the moment."

Spotz's 19-foot rowing boat was built by Aquidneck Custom Composites in Bristol, R.I., from a Phil Morrison design. Self-righting and built to sustain 30-foot seas, it includes a sealed cabin that provides just enough shelter to sleep, according to information on her Web site, www.rowforwater.com. Solar panels power the electronics.

The hatches that line the deck provide space to store enough food - freeze-dried meals, granola and dried fruit - for 110 days. Equipment included a satellite phone, VHF, GPS, watermaker, laptop, digital audio player, EPIRB, safety harness, life raft, a ditch bag, survival suit, fishing kit, medical kit, flares and a PFD.

Spotz, who hails from Ohio, has also swam the entire 325-mile Allegheny River (the first person to do so) and run 150 miles across the Mojave and Colorado deserts solo and self-supported.

This article originally appeared in the May 2010 issue.