Défi Titicaca, 122 km Across The World's Highest Navigable Lake, by Malia Metella, Théo Curin, Mathieu Witvoet

Défi Titicaca, 122 km Across The World’s Highest Navigable Lake, by Malia Metella, Théo Curin, Mathieu Witvoet

International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame Honor Swimmer and driver of open water swimming in France Stéphane Lecat announced that three French swimmers will attempt to swim 122 km across Lake Titicaca between Bolivia and Peru at 3,811m altitude beginning on November 10th. The French trio – including two-time Olympic swimmer Malia Metella, para swimming world medalist Théo Curin, and eco-adventurer and speaker Mathieu Witvoet – will be totally self-sustained during their unprecedented high-altitude swim.

Coach Lecat is helping with the adventure – @Défititicaca – along with coaches Stéphane Garcia and Bilal Bourazza. They have been working on this project for two years including a dedicated 13 months with specific training.

Metella, Curin and Witvoet will swim and pull an eco-designed escort boat along with all the equipment, food and hydration that they will need throughout the estimated 10-day relay. They will either rest, sleep or eat in the boat that they will pull in the 10°C water. Witvoet explains the various objectives of their challenge, “We are working with some of France’s best experts on food, altitude, swimming, and cold acclimatization to prepare for this adventure. We will have zero waste of food and beverage while we are supporting Peruvian and Bolivian NGOs while transforming the vision and limitations of disabilities.”

Théo Curin is a French quadruple amputee and a para swimming medalist at the International Paralympic Committee World Championships. He was diagnosed with bacterial meningitis at the age of six, which resulted in amputations to the lower part of all four limbs. Years ago, his mother wrote a letter to French disabled swimmer Philippe Croizon who had also undergone a quadruple amputation and who swam across the English Channel.

Croizon visited the Curin family in Rehainviller and encouraged Curin to try swimming. Although Curin was initially afraid and struggled with his swimming technique, he was driven o show Croizon he could succeed. He kept training and improved gradually, “I began step by step doing my first 50m and then 100m. Swimming helped me with a lot of things, especially the way people looked at me. I didn’t like how people looked at me, but with a swimming suit you reveal yourself. That helped me a lot.

When I got out of the hospital [after the amputations], I had heard there was someone [Croizon] with almost the same impairment as me, who had already done such marvellous things. I told my mother that I wanted to meet him. A short time later, Croizon came to our home. At the time I was afraid of the water, and when I saw him training to cross the English Channel I told myself, ‘Wow, that’s amazing. I also want to make my parents proud of me.’

Teammate Malia Metella needs no introduction to the water, although the cold water temperatures and high altitude will require training and preparation. Metella competed in 8 different races at the 2004 Athens Olympics and the 2008 Beijing Olympics, winning a silver medal in the 50m freestyle.

While Mathieu Witvoet has completed a 14.4 km crossing of the Strait of Gibraltar, it is his storytelling abilities and marine environmental background that is driving the challenge.

Déchets plastiques : comment innover pour survivre ? | Matthieu Witvoet | TEDxVersaillesGrandParc

For more information, visit @Defititicaca. To follow on Facebook, visit here. To follow on Instagram, visit here. To follow Curin on Instagram, visit here. To follow Metella on Instagram, visit here. To follow Witvoet on Instagram, visit here.

on Lake Titicaca with a few days until the scheduled start on November 10th

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Steven Munatones