Absolutely Heroic!  Shark Attack Survivor Adherbal de Oliveira Is First To Complete The LPSA Triple Crown

Absolutely Heroic! Shark Attack Survivor Adherbal de Oliveira Is First To Complete The LPSA Triple Crown

Adherbal de Oliveira is one of the few open water swimmers who suffered a shark attack during a channel swimmer this century.

The bite from the cookiecutter shark (cigar shark) in the middle of the Molokai Channel was deep and removed a lot of skin and muscle out of his thigh (see here). It was a gruesome sight that, fortunately, very very few swimmers will see.

However, that unfortunate experience in July 2019 never stopped the 53-year-old Adherbal, the 2019 World Open Water Swimming Man of the Year who had previously completed crossings of the English Channel, the Catalina Channel, and the Strait of Gibraltar.

As he was rehabilitating, he continued to run and promote the Leme to Pontal Swimming Association and guide numerous swimmers and relays in the completes the 36 km Travessia do Leme ao Pontal in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. His wound did not dampen his deep passion for the sport of open water swimming and all kinds of ocean challenges.

Instead, Adherbal completed an improbable and remarkable return to the open water. He challenged himself to two difficult marathon swims while inspiring many throughout the open water community.

Adherbal de Oliveira said, “These three years away from swimming were important to me, along with my family. I feel more calm and pleasure in swimming in the open water. During three years, I did not completely distance myself from the sport as an athlete. I took occasional swims in the ocean and starting to practice tennis as a new hobby.

However, in 2022, after doing a 6 km workout in the sea, I decided to challenge myself in the 16 km Travessia do Leme à Barra da Tijuca.”

Adherbal swam well. So well that he set a new bioprene record of 4 hours 25 minutes in the November 11th event.

Happy with his completed swim and still under the effects of euphoria, Adherbal decided to test himself in the 50 km Travessia da Praia Vermelha à Barra de Guaratiba, the longest course organized and sanctioned by the Leme to Pontal Swimming Association.

He explains, “In order for the swim to be held in the window between December 6th and 9th, a three-week preparation plan was established with a total volume of 170 km under the guidance of my coach Samir Barel. Nature helped, so all the preparation was done with open water training with A3 stimuli and daily training of up to 15 km.”

On December 9th at 3:00 am, Adherbal started the swim knowing that the current would be slightly against him, but that there would be good winds and waves in his favor. The water was 21ºC with incredible visibility that provided him with beautiful images of shoals, algae and rocks throughout the swim.

Everything went well until the 36th kilometer when he entered the final third section of the swim. In this area, there are several islands, rocks, and a thick Atlantic forest on land.

He said, “There were 5 hours of much struggle to stay on the right course. Somehow, I managed to progress on the course. The current added to the waves and made the sea very difficult to swim in, but I managed to complete the 50 km swim in 13 hours 57 minutes, becoming the first swimmer to win the LPSA Triple Crown (Tríplice Coroa LPSA in Portuguese), which includes the officially sanctioned 16 km, 36 km, and 50 km LPSA courses.”

LPSA Triple Crown Courses

LPSA Triple Crowner

With his back-to-back completions of the 16 km and 50 km LPSA courses in November and December, Adherbal de Oliveira is back – without a doubt – in a big way.

Copyright © 2008 – 2022 by World Open Water Swimming Association

Steven Munatones