After what seems like an eternity we finally landed at the native village of Wales, the most western point of the United States of America after we started swimming from Cape Dezhnev, the most eastern point of Russia
The swim took 6 days and the organisation took far, far longer….
To explain everything that happened both before and during the swim needs many thousands of words but needless to say massive kudos to all those involved over the years that helped to make this project succeed in 2013.
6 days is a quite a long time to cross an 86km strait but when you take into consideration the fact that we swum 134km in total and had to deal with waves of up to 4 or 5 metres, winds of up to 44knots, heavy rain, extremely strong currents, fog as thick as thick as candy floss and of course extremely cold water as low as 2c, it becomes apparent that it was a major achievement to make the crossing. Personally I am glad it was difficult not only because it was a tremendous adventure but because it meant that I got something lasting for all my dedication to do this for the last 2.5 years. I would say that the challenge was somewhere around 20% swimming, 40% psychological and 40% nature.
Fear, pain, fatigue, confusion, cold, sleep deprivation, seasickness, in the end I felt like we morphed from swimmers into 50% swimmer and 50% old school marine explorers such was the uniqueness of the challenge in the far north, well above the 10c July isotherm in an area described by one word…arctic.
This was a major success for the sport of winter swimming. There have only been two other swims that have been made at such a latitude in the northern hemisphere. Lewis Gordon Pugh took an icebreaker to the north pole and swum 1km there in 2007. He did that swim to highlight the melting of arctic sea ice. Our 2013 swim was about international cooperation, also relevant to the region as the arctic continues to attract more interest in terms of resources and energy and therefore logistics. Lynne Cox of course got to the Bering Strait before us, she made an amazing solo swim in 1987 when she swam between the 2 diomede islands. That was the first America to Russia swim but we made the first continent to continent swim with our relay.
We succeeded in not only linking the two continents but in connecting 16 nations as swimmers from various backgrounds and countries came together in a relay swim of friendship, proving that the most important things in life aren’t material riches but human feelings and friendship.
Personally I’ll be looking North and East for future projects from my Czech Republic base.