Swimming high – in the sky

Last Saturday I completed the third continent on my global journey – South America – by swimming the 7.5km from Isla del Sol (Island of Sun) to Isla de la Luna (Island of Moon) on the Bolivian side of Lake Titicaca, the world’s highest navigable lake. You may think (and so did I) that less than 8km is small feat when compared to the 34km+ English Channel or the 48km Manhattan loop. Make no mistake: swimming at 12,500 feet-high is no joke, and I probably had one of the toughest races in my life. 
This year’s tight schedule didn’t allow me many days of adaptation so we arrived in Copacabana, Bolivia only two days before the race. The headache disappeared after the first day thanks to numerous “mates de coca”, but just walking up the stairs in the hotel was a strenuous activity. I had never been in such a high altitude and the warnings of people like Lynne Cox, the first person to swim in the lake back in 1992 were clear, but I kept good spirits and trust on my training. I even went for…

This time for Africa

It’s been a month since we got back from Oceania and I’ve had a few busy weekends in the USA: I completed a 1km swim in the 4°C waters of New York (and qualified for Antarctica), I swam about 20km in the 14°C waters of California (more on that later) and I took part in a 12km race in the 24°C of Florida – a 20°C difference in waters!
Next Wednesday we will be heading to South Africa to tackle Continent #2. The Freedom Swim, considered the “Everest” to every open water swimmer in South Africa, covers the stretch of water from Robben Island to Cape Town. Distance is not excessive but lower water temperatures as well as abundant marine life (including great white sharks) make it a very challenging swim. It is also a very special year, as Nelson Mandela would have turned 100 years old. I still remember seeing him from afar during his last public appearance at the final match of the 2010 World Cup.

There will be about 60 of us facing the Channel next Saturday – half of us in skins, half o…

Road to Antarctica

How does an ordinary guy from the subtropical Canary Islands, who had never swum in waters colder than 18 degrees, become the US Winter Swimming champion in 100 and 200 Freestyle and qualify for the first ever 1 km swim competition in Antarctica with the world’s best ice swimmers? Just believing in it – and training hard for it.
When I started shaping the Continents Seven project at the end of last year, I knew I would have to speed up and become a “cold swimmer” rapidly. I started doing research on Ice and Winter Swimming, and the different bodies regulating this newish, extreme sport internationally. I did not fully understand the differences and boundaries between the International Ice Swimming Association (IISA) and the International Winter Swimming Association (IWSA) (I still don't), but I knew that the IISA was organizing a swim in Antarctica in November 2018 and I was quick to sign up for it.

I was the last swimmer to enter the 2018 batch and I had to show I could do so sa…

Thank You Australia

Australia just gave me a lesson I will never forget. I had to go all the way to Down Under to learn that things do not always go down the way we plan and that sometimes you cannot fight against the elements, especially against the sea. It is the first time in my life I haven’t finished a race, and the first time in my life I’ve cried in the water.
The week leading to the Port to Pub – i.e. the longer version of the Rottnest Channel Swim – could not have gone better. I won my age group and ended 3rd overall in a shorter race in New Zealand, I trained in both Bondi and Manly beaches in Sydney, and I was feeling very strong both physically and mentally for the 25km solo in Perth. On Friday morning, we attended the briefing to learn that conditions were not optimal due to strong winds, but that we were going ahead anyway.
I didn’t think much about it – one thing an open water swimmer must be used to is the unpredictability of weather and other elements. Three weeks ago, and for the first…

Let the Games begin!

I am just a couple of days away from starting my global journey and it is hard to keep the excitement. I have put down a significant amount of training, planning – and yes, investment – behind my Continents Seven project and I feel very much ready to start tackling continents, one by one.
My first major swim is going to be the so-called Port to Pub in Western Australia, i.e. the longest organized race in Oceania with 25km between Perth and Rottnest Island. The slightly shorter route of 19.7km was covered by the Rotto Swim last week and over 100 participants had to be taken out of the water after a 4-metre-long great white shark was sighted circling some of the swimmers. It is the first time this happens in 60 years but it is a good reminder that we sometimes swim in hostile environments that are not made for humans. If anything, this warning pumps further my adrenaline.
Flying from New York to Perth is not easy, so I will be breaking the trip in different legs and training in Waikiki…

Ice Swimming – and USWSA Nationals

I finished my 2017 season in the open waters exactly 3 months ago on Nov 13, after completing the annual 22km-long night marathon swim in Acapulco, Mexico. I was talking to Steven Munatones of WOWSA about the year I’d had and about my future events, and he teased me to do a major swim in each continent during 2018 – and so the Continents Seven term was coined and my once-in-a-lifetime project was born.

Next thing I knew I was reaching out to Ram Barkai of IISA to include me in the list of 16 swimmers heading to Antarctica in November 2018 to participate in the first ever ICE KM swimming competition down there. Only 10 swimmers have swum in the waters of Antarctica in history and the 15 swimmers coming with me are all experienced ice swimmers. I was all up to the challenge but had a lot of work to do.
I had never swum in waters below 60F / 15C and my only experience in ice swimming was reading Lynne Cox’s Swimming to Antarctica during a Trans-Siberian Railway trip I did in 2009 (yes, i…

Swim for Haiti 2018

Last Saturday I took off for Port-au-Prince, Haiti for the second time in the last 12 months. Swimming surely gets you to places you could not have imagined. Five years ago, American entrepreneur Jim Chu and 3 friends of his thought they would swim from an island 10 kilometers off Wahoo Bay Beach in the West Province, back to the shore – and so the Swim for Haiti was born. 
The event has now grown to 100+ swimmers in two races (1.5K and 10K) and is offered in partnership with swimming holiday consultants Swim Trek and with Canadian-born circuit Global Swim Series. Despite the still evident poor state of the country, Wahoo Bay Beach is a nice resort that enjoys calm and warm waters for their guests, a perfect spot for a swimming vacation – or competition. 
The 10K race was my first test in a year that will not be short of adventures and challenges. I had won the 2017 edition with a slow 2h56’, when I was still starting my training (after a break of 15 years!) and with about 5 feeding …