Izabela Oliveira Rodrigues, Ana Paula Lima Vilarinho Complete Travessia do Leme ao Pontal
Adherbal de Oliveira reported on another successful Travessia do Leme ao Pontal on April 26th. He describes the swims of 29-year-old Izabela Oliveira Rodrigues and 32-year-old Ana Paula Lima Vilarinho, “The plan was for each one to do their solo swim without the use of neoprene as they departed at the same time. Throughout their preparation, the friends often trained together under the guidance of the same trainer, the experienced and renowned Samir Barel.
During this time of the COVID-19 pandemic with numerous safety protocols and pool closings, preparing for a crossing in the ocean with the influences of winds, waves and sea currents, requires determination, creativity, discipline and abdications by both athletes. There were difficult months of preparation, with many uncertainties, but they continued to manage their training, such as the 5-hour training session on Lake Paranoá in the city of Brasília.
Although Izabela and Ana Paula had completed several marathon swims in their career, the two athletes had never swum 36 km which caused anxiety when the start day arrived. Their window was from April 20th to 26th, but the window started with a cold front that brought waves over 5 meters high and southeastern winds over 20 knots which was very unusual in Rio de Janeiro. These conditions forced the swimmers to wait for the sea conditions to calm down – that only occurred on the last day of their swim window.
On a full moon night without winds on a tranquil sea, Izabel and Ana Paula started their swim at 2:00 am on the morning of April 26th. Before they started to swim, there was a moment of great emotion when they hugged each other in the water.
They got into their rhythm and stuck to their strategy as they headed towards Pontal Beach. During the night, the swimmers were surrounded by the presence of planktons that illuminated by the full moon, creating an atmosphere of magic that was enjoyed by the swimmers who continued to be expertly guided by their escort boats – Izabela by the vessel Olympus 2 with Captain Tiago Alberto da Silva and Ana Paula by the escort boat Ladeia V with Commander Manoel Fernandez.
As the swimmers advanced along the course, the sea conditions remained favorable only with the presence of a small counter current that intensified at the entrance to Barra da Tijuca Beach. In the final stretch with 5 km to go, 6-knot winds came from the south (perpendicular to their swimming direction), causing the two swimmers to exert more strength to overcome the waves.
Izabela Rodrigues was the first to complete the swim with the time of 10 hours 24 minutes. She watched the arrival of her friend Ana Paula with the time of 13 hours 28 minutes on the beach.
Despite the pandemic moment in which the world lives and the wait for the cold front week in the city, the swimmers managed to complete their swimming and, with a great performance, wrote their names in the history of Travessia do Leme ao Pontal, the crossing that is considered by many swimmers as the most beautiful and challenging crossing in Brazil.“
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