Martin Strel Swims In Stages

Martin Strel Swims In Stages

Courtesy of WOWSA, Huntington Beach, California.

Martin Strel of Slovenia was recently voted into the International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame together with fellow Honour Swimmers Antonio Argüelles Díaz-González (Mexico) and Forrest Nelson (U.S.A.) as well as Honour Administrator Marty Veen (Netherlands), and Honour Organisations Jersey Long Distance Swimming Club (United Kingdom) and Varne Ridge Holiday Park (United Kingdom).

While Strel is best known for his stage swims down the Mississippi River (3,885 km in 2002 in 68 days), the Paraná River (3,998 km in 2003), the Yangtze River (4,003 km in 2004 in 40 days), and the Amazon River (5,268 km in 2007 in 66 days), his entire career has proceeded in stages.

Early on, Strel did a lot of traditional open water swims, including amateur and professional races wherever he could participate.

He later stepped up the distance and completed two especially long non-stop river swims: 105 km in the Krka River in Slovenia in 28 hours in 1992 and 62 km in the Kolpa river in 16 hours in 1993. In 1997, he completed a 16 hour 28 minute crossing of the English Channel.

By 2000, he started to plan and swim much longer distances and started to perfect his stage swims and all the logistics that these ultra swims entailed. In July 2001, he swam 504.5 km in a non-stop swim in the Danube River where he swam, floated, and dozed off for 84 hours 10 minutes. The next year, he swam 3,004 km in the Danube River in a 58-day stage swim in 2002.

The Danube was the steppingstone to his increasingly difficult stage swims in the Mississippi, Paraná, Yangtze and Amazon. During his Amazon swim, he burst upon the international scene with constant information flow pioneered by his son and crew member Borut Strel. Borut figured out a means to keep his father safe and his progress relayed to the outside world while swimming through the juggles in Brazil. “It was not a easy technological task. We had to take everything with us, not knowing exactly what we would encounter along the way.”

Now, Strel is planning more camps and clinics in beautiful locations from the western United States to Croatia, ever anxious to share his passion with the rest of humanity.

Photo by Skip Storch shows Martin Strel at the 2011 Global Open Water Swimming Conference in New York City.

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Steven Munatones