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 …

Wetsuit or Skin?

Open Water Swimming is a sport with no limits and little homogenization. Despite MSF’s efforts to enhance them, the only regulations that the industry seems to recognize globally are still the “English Channel rules” that have been around for many, many years. These effectively mean that the participant must complete the swim like Captain Webb did the Channel in 1875 – helpless and wetsuitless.
The sport has no doubt blossomed around the world in the past few years and just like triathlon, it is mainly started or practiced by aged individuals (some may even say people in their mid-life crisis!) who have the time and the money to do so. Most are able and keen to possess the latest gear and try to enjoy the sport rather than suffering with it, so the pressure to allow wetsuits is increasing around the world. In fact, most races now rank separately wetsuit and non-wetsuit competitors.
Speaking in Fahrenheit, it is said that a water and air combined temperature of 160F and more carries a…

SwimSilvestre - a good introduction to 2018

According to the Western Christian Church, Saint Sylvester served as Pope until Dec 31, 335 - when he died and was buried in Rome. Since then, a number of Road Races have arisen to commemorate his death in different parts of the world. The most famous of them is Sao Paulo's Corrida de São Silvestre (15K), which had over 30 thousand runners this year. 
Spain holds a number of running "SanSilvestres", from marathon to smaller distances, in cities like Madrid, Valencia and Las Palmas. Following this tradition and given the increasing number of open water swimmers, public and private institutions have started to offer "SwimSilvestres" too. This year, as many as 12 races were offered in rivers and lakes across all Spain, ranging from 0.1K to 2.5K.
I took part in the 1.5K SwimSilvestre Galdar, held in the North of Gran Canaria for over 150 swimmers. Conditions were excellent with air temp at 22C and water temp at 18C. Most swimmers still chose to wear wetsuits and n…

Continents Seven

We, Open Water Swimmers are a rare breed, no doubt. Not many people understand why on Earth would we swim for so long, out in the oceans / rivers / lakes in potentially cold, dark and dangerous waters, for no reason beyond personal accomplishment or fundraising purposes.
Additionally, it is a sport with no limits and with little regulation beyond the "English Channel rules". That creates a variety of approaches among marathon swimmers - some focus on being faster than anybody else, some prefer to swim longer races or pursue common feats, some others to create unprecedented, challenging routes. That also generates a wide variety of age groups and body shapes among the OWS community - in fact, some would never pass for swimmers at all.
What is common among most and still amazes me is the secretive nature of the planning. While runners, triathletes and climbers have no problems in sharing their goals, swimmers tend to be more reserved to say what they are up to. This could be …