Tri The Impossible: Dan Martin's One Loop Around The World

Tri The Impossible: Dan Martin’s One Loop Around The World

Dan Martin is waiting in an undisclosed location completing his final preparations for his audacious, awe-inspiring, beyond-imagination, Herculean Global Triathlon.

Martin will start and finish on the East Coast of America, occasionally battling ocean swells up to 20 meters. 20 meters! But he will do one length across the Atlantic Ocean under English Channel rules – starting each daily swim at the same point where he exited the water on the previous day.

After clearing the water in England, he will dry off, grab some grub and then cycle through Europe, the Middle East and then onto Asia. Several thousands of feeding stops later, he will run across the North American continent.

Martin describes his adventure across the Atlantic Ocean, “It’s 3,500 miles of cold, deep, dangerous water. There are huge waves, massive storm systems, hurricanes, icebergs, strong currents, sharks, poisonous jellyfish, and heavy shipping traffic. I have to get into the water day after day for up to four months.”

In an interview with the Daily News of Open Water Swimming, Martin’s humble nature, level of commitment and detailed logistical planning impressed us as few others have.

Here is how Martin described his unprecedented exploit:

Daily News of Open Water Swimming: If you get in trouble in the middle of the Atlantic, what safety precautions do you have?

Martin: Trouble is going to take many forms in the Atlantic. My main concern is the cold. I’m quite good with the cold and have built up body fats to help me, but the persistent exposure is going to bring problems. To counter these, I’ll be making sure I get my nutrition right – to keep the fire burning! I’ll have a boat alongside me with fully qualified first aiders with knowledge of the early signs of hyperthermia.

The things most people are concerned about are the sharks and the jellyfish. For the sharks, I’ll be relying on the vigilance of my support crew and using several different shark repellents. I’ll use the Shark shield and Shark Defense.

For the jellyfish, there isn’t a lot I can do. I can try and avoid them with help from the crew, but I’m just going to have to suffer some stings and get treatment on the boat for anything more severe than a rash. That said, I do have an irrational fear of jellyfish.

Daily News of Open Water Swimming: How large is your escort boat and approximately how much fuel are you taking?

Martin: It’s a fifty foot steel yacht called Ice Maiden, but this may change if a sponsor comes onboard. We’ll be taking about 7000 gallons of fuel with the possibility of a re-supply on top of that. The main drain on the fuel will be the rib that follows me at all times and the generator. The yacht itself will operate largely under sail. The rib is a small inflatable rubber boat like a Zodiac. I won’t be using a shark cage due to the drag they create.

Daily News of Open Water Swimming: How far away from your escort boat will you swim?

Martin: The main boat will drift while I’m swimming and only come catch me up for breaks. I’ll have a smaller rib that will follow me the whole way staying a few metres from me.

Daily News of Open Water Swimming: Will a smaller boat or kayak be positioned next to you?

Dan: Yes.

Daily News of Open Water Swimming: We heard you will swim for 3 hours, then rest for 2 hours and continue like that throughout the daytime hours. Is that true?

Martin: The plan is to swim for eight hours each day, swimming for three hours and then having an hour break before dropping back in for another three hours, then another break and two more hours.

Daily News of Open Water Swimming: Approximately how many hours do you plan to swim on average throughout your swim leg?

Martin: Roughly 8 hours a day-more if we’re in a strong bit of current and less obviously if there are storms lashing in.

Daily News of Open Water Swimming: Approximately how many kilometers do you hope to swim on average throughout the swim leg?

Martin: The total distance if we get it right is about 5,000 kilometers. The average each day will vary depending on the strength of the current with full days varying from 30-80kilometers.

Daily News of Open Water Swimming: Do you plan to take any days off during the swim leg?

Martin: Yes, the plan is to take one day off every seven. However, this will all be arranged around the storm forecasts we receive. If I know there’s a storm coming up then I’ll push on for a few days and take a ‘rest’ during the storm. This will mean that most of the rest days won’t be very restful.

Daily News of Open Water Swimming: Are you taking any special medications or inoculations before the swim as a precaution?

Martin: No, not really. I take a bit of ginger (in the form of ginger biscuits) to help with circulation.

Daily News of Open Water Swimming: What is the name of your pilot and did he sign up to pilot you across in a heartbeat – or did it take a while for him/her to agree to accept this responsibility?

Martin: The captain’s name is Guy Ellis. He’s an old school friend so it didn’t take long to persuade him. He’s a great guy and thoroughly professional-I trust him completely.

Daily News of Open Water Swimming: You will swim without a wetsuit? Why?

Martin: This seems to be a big issue and initially I was 100% set on wearing a wetsuit. I’m now against them as it’s not really swimming. It gives you such a big boost in speed that it’s similar to wearing fins. Swimming is trunks, goggles and a cap. It’s just the way it is. Having trained in all conditions for the past year I’ve realised how good the body is at adapting and am now fully confident that the wetsuit isn’t for me. They would help immensely with jellyfish but the most painful of stings are in areas not really covered by the wetsuit – the neck and face.

Daily News of Open Water Swimming: What currents will you be riding across the Atlantic when you are swimming, if any?

Martin: I’ll be trying to follow the Gulf Current for a large proportion of the swim. It’s quite strong off the coast of North America, but then peters out a bit mid Atlantic. With the prediction services and NOAA information, we should be able to stay in the current.

Daily News of Open Water Swimming: After you finish a swim, then rest/eat/sleep and then get back into the water, you will start at the exact point where you got out the previous swim. If there is a current, will your escort boat simply anchor or will it have to travel backwards to your next starting point? Won’t that be frustrating?

Martin: Yeah, we’re going to be GPS marking the spot that I touch the boat and sailing back the next day. It will be frustrating, but I hoping that the crew will sail it back in the early hours of the morning so I can simply concentrate on getting ready and getting on with the swim.

Daily News of Open Water Swimming: If the waves, swells and whitecaps are very high, what safety precautions will you take?

Martin: We’ll be loosely following the [English] Channel swimming guidelines. The [English] Channel swimming pilots rarely go out if anything higher than Force 4 is predicted. We’ll be monitoring the situation and will judge each day as it comes. I’m quite good in big seas. We’ll take the standard precautions of brightly colored cap and light sticks on my trunks and cap.

60 foot seas aren’t out of the questions. By I’m good with big seas, I mean Force 5 and 6. Anything up to 7 or 8 feet isn’t too bad. We shouldn’t see any 60-foot seas as we’ll use the predictions and high tail out of there and come back after the storm has blown through

Daily News of Open Water Swimming: This event is of a scale that is beyond human comprehension. How do you mentally tackle such an event?

Martin: If I let my mind wonder on to the enormity of the project, it’s overwhelming. I really try hard to focus on the building block – the days, the sessions, the times between feeds, the times between breaths, each stroke. This challenge is 90% mental and I’ve been working with a psychologist to get a mental tool box ready for when the going gets tough.

Daily News of Open Water Swimming: What is your goal time of actual swimming and your overall estimation of the time it will take you to complete this swim?

Martin: I think, with the right currents, it’s possible in 14 weeks but I’m planning for 16 and it could take as long as 20 weeks or more. There are so many variables that nailing down a specific time is impossible. Make no mistake though, I’m in this for the long run – it’s a big trip and the swim is just the first leg.

Daily News of Open Water Swimming: Will your swim be streamed online so we can watch your progress?

Martin: The plan at the moment is to send tweets everyday, upload blog posts with photos and short films every few days and upload a longer video every 10-14 days.

Incredible. Truly incredible.

Copyright © 2012 by Open Water Source
Steven Munatones