Sabrina Peron's Epic Swim Around Capraia

Sabrina Peron’s Epic Swim Around Capraia

On April 26, 2024, Sabrina Peron from Milan, Italy undertook the ambitious challenge of circumnavigating Capraia Island — marking yet another significant achievement in her illustrious open water swimming career. Sabrina is the 241st person and the first Italian woman to complete the Triple Crown of Open Water Swimming.

Capraia Island, part of the Tuscan Archipelago, offers a rich tapestry of history and natural beauty. As the only volcanic island in the archipelago, its rugged landscapes and mountainous terrain, with Monte Castello as its highest peak at 466 meters above sea level, contribute to the island’s unique rock formations and captivating scenery. Inhabited since the end of the 3rd millennium BC, Capraia has seen various civilizations — including the Phoenicians, Greeks, Etruscans, and Romans. The island’s name, “Capraria,” is believed to be derived from “capra” meaning goat — a nod to the wild goats that roamed its landscape.

Despite adverse weather conditions, a window of opportunity on April 26, 2024 allowed Sabrina to commence her swim from Frate Beach. During her journey, she encountered minimal jellyfish, waves under 50cm, and some counter currents at various turning points around the island. Occasional rain added to the challenge, but overall, the weather was manageable and did not hinder her progress. The water temperature ranged from 14.2°C to 19.0°C, while the air temperature varied from 12.3°C to 21.3°C, with wind speeds of 3 to 5 m/s. Her route covered a straight-line distance of 19.7 km, and she swam 23.1 km, completing the swim in an impressive 7 hours and 59 minutes.

The swim was carefully observed and documented by Massimiliano Amirfeiz, a board member of the Lega Navale Italiana Capraia delegation, who ensured adherence to the swim’s strict guidelines. Fabio Guidi, the pilot of Rais Dragut II, expertly navigated the support boat, providing crucial assistance throughout the journey. The support team also included Cristina De Tullio as the feeder, Roberta Mauri responsible for safety, and Paola Sarchi serving as the doctor. Two kayakers, Giorgio Mingarelli and Luisa Ferrarini, alternated every hour to support and guide Sabrina.

Adhering to traditional marathon swimming rules, Sabrina swam wearing only a bathing suit, cap, and earplugs, without any contact with the boat or kayaks, and started and finished at the same point on Frate Beach.

After completing her remarkable swim, Sabrina shared a detailed account of her experience and the events leading up to and following the swim on her blog. Her narrative, filled with humorous and poignant moments, captures the essence of the adventure, including the colorful characters and unique elements that made this journey unforgettable. One such element was the presence of a vintage stuffed goat named Goliarda, which added a touch of whimsy and tradition to the expedition.

From Sabrina Peron’s blog:

Swim Around Capraia – April 26, 2024

“Better to swim and (perhaps later) regret it, than not to swim and (surely) regret it” – Apocryphal quote attributed to Machiavelli.

Participants (in no particular order)

  • Sabrina: Swimmer
  • Massimiliano: Observer
  • Cristina: Feeder
  • Roberta: Driver & Safeguard
  • Anna: Photographer & Jack of All Trades
  • Fabio: Pilot of Rais Dragut II
  • Giorgio: Kayaker 1
  • Luisa: Kayaker 2
  • Paola: Doctor
  • Gabriele: Doctor’s Husband
  • Orsola: Pastry Chef’s Wife
  • Laura: Fan Supporter
  • Andrea: Musician & Tea Assistant
  • Federico: Luisa’s Brother & Champagne Assistant
  • Meduse: Pelagia Noctiluca

With the extraordinary participation of:

  • Goliarda: A vintage goat rescued from an attic where it had been forgotten

Swim Around Capraia – April 26, 2024, 7:00 a.m. – Port of Capraia

Massimiliano: “We just measured the water temperature: 13 degrees.”

Sabrina remains silent, proceeding with her head down towards the starting point (Frate beach).

Cristina: “Come on, the sun is coming out.”

The sky is full of clouds.


Swim Around Capraia – April 25, 2024, 4:00 a.m. – Bareggio

The alarm rings and they quickly get up: Sabrina (Swimmer), Cristina (Feeder), Roberta (Driver & Safeguard), Anna (Photographer & Jack of All Trades).

They quickly prepare and head out into the night. The car is already loaded, actually overloaded.

Roberta (Driver & Safeguard): “Oh… it’s freezing cold.”

Sabrina remains silent, proceeding with her head down.

Cristina: “Come on, the sun will come out.”

The sky is a mass of low clouds.


Swim Around Capraia – April 25, 2024, 6:00 a.m. – Highway

Along the Cisa, through a bank of low clouds, they discuss artificial intelligence and protests against cuts to Milan’s Civic Schools, while Roberta drives through the rainy night.

Cristina: “Come on, there will be sun in Livorno.”

Sabrina remains silent, checking the weather.


Swim Around Capraia – December 18, 2023, 10:00 p.m. – Video Call

Massimiliano: “So, the good dates for the Swim Around Capraia Winter Edition are December 28-30. The water temperature should be 14 degrees.”


Swim Around Capraia – December 26, 2023, 7:00 p.m. – Milan

Sabrina (in the group chat): “Bad news… I caught COVID (asymptomatic). The Swim Around Capraia Winter Edition is canceled.”


Swim Around Capraia – April 17, 2024, 10:00 p.m. – Video Call

Reviewing the checklist for the Swim Around Capraia Spring Edition, attended by Cristina, Sabrina, Roberta.

Cristina: “So, I’ll do the shopping and bring the red grater, Sabrina brings AED, Dry Robe, supplements, and panettone…”

Sabrina: “Scratch panettone, the list needs updating, it’s no longer the Swim Around Capraia Winter Edition.”

Cristina (impassively): “The list doesn’t change.”

Roberta: “What’s the red grater?”


Swim Around Capraia – April 19, 2024, 8:30 a.m. – Milan, Fontana&Fontana Pastry Shop

Sabrina: “Uhm… so… yes… I’m looking for an out-of-season panettone.”

Orsola (Pastry Chef’s Wife): “No problem. We bake panettones for all seasons. Et voilà, here is the Chocolate Spring Edition Panettone for the Swim Around Capraia.”


Swim Around Capraia – April 22, 2024, 12:00 a.m. – Swim Around Capraia Chat

Massimiliano: “From LaMMA Toscana, they inform us that there are no weather conditions to authorize the Swim Around Capraia in the window April 25-27. But the weather is unstable, maybe something will change. We’ll update tomorrow.”

Sabrina remains silent.


Swim Around Capraia – April 23, 2024, 12:00 a.m. – Swim Around Capraia Chat

Massimiliano: “From LaMMA Toscana, they inform us that adverse weather conditions persist.”

Luisa: “I remain optimistic and I’m heading to Capraia anyway!”

Massimiliano: “I’m already in Capraia, ready for anything.”

Cristina: “We need a voodoo spell!”

Laura: “Nooo! I just paid the reservation for the house in Capraia.”

Sabrina remains silent.


Swim Around Capraia – April 24, 2024, 12:00 a.m. – Swim Around Capraia Chat

Massimiliano: “From LaMMA Toscana, we have the go-ahead for April 26. Everyone must be in Capraia by 6:00 p.m. on the 25th for the briefing.”

Cristina: “The voodoo spell worked.”

Sabrina remains silent.

It’s pouring rain in Milan.


Swim Around Capraia – April 25, 2024, 8:00 a.m. – Port of Livorno

It’s pouring rain and we abandon the futile idea of having breakfast at the bar.

Anna: “We need an invocation to Zeus.”

Sabrina, breaking her silence: “Also to Poseidon E(n)nosígaios.”

Fabio writes in the chat: “Don’t worry, it’s sunny in Capraia” (sends photo to prove the truth of his statement).

Meanwhile, at the port of Livorno, arrivals include: from Modena, Giorgio (Kayaker 1); from Belluno, Luisa (Kayaker 2) with Gina, the dog; from Milan, Paola (Doctor), with her husband Gabriele, and Laura (Fan Supporter); from Livorno, Andrea (Musician).


Swim Around Capraia – April 25, 2024, 10:30 a.m. – On the Ferry to Capraia

Rough seas and rain.

Fabio writes in the chat: “Sudden weather change: it’s raining here too” and sends a new photo to prove it.


Swim Around Capraia – April 25, 2024, 10:45 a.m. – On the Ferry to Capraia

The ferry moves, dancing among the waves, and Fabio writes in the chat: “Hail in Capraia.”

Giorgio, sighing: “In the end, you managed to drag me to Capraia in bad weather.”

Gabriele: “And me? What should I say? I’m here only because I wanted to walk under the sun of Capraia.”

The rest of the crew sleeps or chews gum against seasickness.

Sabrina remains silent.


Swim Around Capraia – April 25, 2024, 2:00 p.m. – Massimiliano’s House

It’s raining outside, Andrea plays the piano, Massimiliano offers everyone Capraia’s red pizza, and LaMMA Toscana confirms the weather conditions to authorize the Swim Around Capraia for tomorrow.


Swim Around Capraia – April 25, 2024, 6:00 p.m. – Capraia Ipogea Hall Briefing

Massimiliano explains the rules of the Swim Around Capraia: unassisted swim (i.e., with swimsuit, cap, and goggles, possibility of wearing earplugs and smearing vaseline), no contact with the boat or kayak; feeding every 30 minutes (hot water and maltodextrins) which will be thrown from the boat by Cristina with a bottle tied to a rope; kayakers change every hour. The Rais Dragut II will mark the route, the kayak will follow at a distance, always alongside the swimmer.

Massimiliano looks at Sabrina, and Sabrina nods.


Swim Around Capraia – April 25, 2024, 6:10 p.m. – Capraia Ipogea Hall Briefing

Massimiliano shows the slide of the route starting and ending at Frate beach and announces that due to the absolute ban on entering the Marine Protected Area, the route will be extended by a few (unspecified) kilometers from the initially planned 20km.

Massimiliano looks at Sabrina, and Sabrina remains silent.


Swim Around Capraia – April 25, 2024, 6:15 p.m. – Capraia Ipogea Hall Briefing

Massimiliano shows the slide on how to rescue the swimmer.

Roberta (as a good Safeguard) confirms the accuracy of the slide.

Massimiliano and Roberta look at Sabrina, and Sabrina remains silent.


Swim Around Capraia – April 25, 2024, 6:20 p.m. – Capraia Ipogea Hall Briefing

Massimiliano shows the slide on how to

resuscitate the swimmer using the AED.

Paola (as a good doctor) confirms the accuracy of the slide.

Massimiliano and Paola look at Sabrina, and Sabrina remains silent.


Swim Around Capraia – April 25, 2024, 6:30 p.m. – Capraia Ipogea Hall Briefing

Massimiliano shows the slide on the Pelagia Noctiluca jellyfish, typical of the Capraia sea, assigns Cristina the task of spotting jellyfish from the boat, and recommends the doctor be ready to assist in case of (too) close encounters.

The briefing ends, and Sabrina has lost all desire to swim.

It’s raining outside.


Swim Around Capraia – April 26, 2024, 7:55 a.m. – Frate Beach

A bit of wind is blowing, the sky is scattered with clouds and some sun.

Sabrina is generously covered in vaseline and listens to the last brief recommendations: swim and have fun.


Swim Around Capraia – April 26, 2024, 8:07 a.m. – Port of Capraia

The Rais Dragut II leaves the port of Capraia with onboard: Fabio (Pilot), Anna (Photographer), Cristina (Feeder), Roberta (Safeguard), Paola (Doctor), Luisa (Kayaker 2), Massimiliano (Observer), and Goliarda (vintage goat to offer to the gods in case of wrath).

Giorgio approaches Frate Beach with the kayak.


Swim Around Capraia – April 26, 2024, 8:11 a.m. – Frate Beach

On the horizon, the kayak guided by Giorgio appears.

Sabrina enters the water cautiously, trying not to slip on the stones: a careful and inglorious entrance.


Swim Around Capraia – April 26, 2024, 9:41 a.m. – Punta Civitata

Sun playing hide and seek – Counter current – Water temperature 15.1°C – Air temperature 18.2°C.

Sabrina struggles, trying to find her rhythm, and watches schools of small fish swimming calmly with the current.

From the Rais Dragut II, they count the stroke frequency: 54 per minute.


Swim Around Capraia – April 26, 2024, 10:11 a.m. – Scoglioni

It’s raining – Water temperature 14.2°C – Air temperature 14.9°C.

Sabrina thinks she has found her rhythm and mentally sings: “I’m swimming in the rain, I’m swimming in the rain la la lalala, I’m swimming in the rain.”

Roberta: “Stroke frequency?”

Paola: “54 per minute.”


Swim Around Capraia – April 26, 2024, 10:41 a.m. – Turco

It’s still raining – Water temperature 15.5°C – Air temperature 12.3°C.

Sabrina sings (mentally): “The drops fall but what does it matter? I’m already wet, tra la, tra la, tra la la.”

Roberta: “Stroke frequency?”

Paola: “54 per minute.”

Massimiliano takes note.


Swim Around Capraia – April 26, 2024, 1:11 p.m. – Scoglietti

Scattered clouds – Water temperature 16.9°C – Air temperature 19.5°C.

Sabrina approaches the boat, Cristina throws the bottle with the hot feed.

Bang!

With relentless precision, the bottle hits the space between her nose and upper lip.

Sabrina sees stars, Cristina turns pale, the boat falls silent, Anna stops photographing, Goliarda indifferently gazes at the sea.

Sabrina lets go of the bottle, closes her eyes, and thinks: “I want to get out. I want to go back to Milan.”

From the Rais Dragut II, they shout in unison: “Watch out! You’re about to hit the boat.”

Sabrina reopens her eyes a moment before the collision, grabs the bottle, chugs the feed, puts her head down, and resumes swimming.

Paola: “Hey crew! Guess the stroke frequency?”

Roberta: “I know! I know!”

Massimiliano notes: 54 per minute.


Swim Around Capraia – April 26, 2024, 3:11 p.m. – Mortola

Sun – Water temperature 16.9°C – Air temperature 19.5°C.

Scattered pelagic jellyfish rise to the surface. Sabrina swims with her head up to avoid them.

Massimiliano: “Stroke frequency?”

Paola and Roberta in unison: “54 per minute. As punctual as a Swiss train.”


Swim Around Capraia – April 26, 2024, 3:41 p.m. – Mortola

Sun – Water temperature 16.9°C – Air temperature 19.5°C.

From the Rais Dragut II, they shout: “Over there! Frate beach.”

Op, op, op.


Swim Around Capraia – April 26, 2024, 4:07 p.m. – Frate Beach

Sun – Water temperature 16.9°C – Air temperature 16.4°C.

A few curious onlookers gather on the small Frate beach, intrigued by the flags set up by Federico, ready to pop the champagne.

From the Rais Dragut II, Cristina grabs the megaphone and improvises a live commentary for those waiting on the beach, where Laura is cheering and Andrea, impeccable, is ready with a tray, cup, and teapot.

Giorgio on the kayak widens, trying to bring Sabrina to a point with fewer stones.

Sabrina does her own thing and heads straight, taking the worst possible exit route and believing she hears voices like Joan of Arc. In reality, the voices are Cristina’s live commentary and Roberta singing: “You’re a legend, oh oh! You’re a legend!”

The exit from the water is even less glorious than the entrance. Sabrina can’t stand up, stumbles, slips, hits her left toe against a stone. Stars reappear. Finally, she is out and raises her arms to the sky.

After 7h59min from the start, covering a total of 23.1km, the Swim Around Capraia is successfully completed.


Swim Around Capraia – April 26, 2024, 4:15 p.m. – Frate Beach

Sabrina, with a swollen lip and limping foot, trembles like a leaf. Andrea offers hot tea.

The entire Rais Dragut II crew lands and celebrates. Federico pops the champagne, Roberta raises the glass to the sky and toasts with Sabrina’s hot water bottle. Anna takes ritual photos and Goliarda is triumphantly paraded on Frate beach.


Swim Around Capraia – April 26, 2024, 5:30 p.m. – In Front of Massimiliano’s House

Laura: “Sabrina, come take a hot shower at my place, there are too many people here.”

Sabrina, naively and incautiously, agrees.


Swim Around Capraia – April 26, 2024, 5:45 p.m. – Laura’s House (cold, damp, without heating… and already paid in advance)

Sabrina steps into the shower and turns on the hot water. The water runs cold. Sabrina waits. The water gets even colder. Sabrina lets out belligerent screams, echoing down to the port.

Laura, in a panic, tries (in vain) to get the hot water running, but the boiler has stopped working.

Sabrina, realizing the futility of her screams, stoically gives up on the shower, mournfully contemplates her bruised and black toe, swollen lip, starts trembling again, and thinks: “I want to go back to Milan.”


Swim Around Capraia – April 27, 2024, 9:30 a.m. – Massimiliano’s House

It’s raining. The entire crew, holed up inside, has no choice but to attack the spring edition panettone, while Andrea plays the guitar.

After finishing the panettone, the crew – more voracious than a swarm of locusts – also opens jars of catnip honey offered by Azienda Agricola San Rocco. The honey is generously spread on abundant slices of focaccia, and the crew reaches unexpected levels of bliss (perhaps due to the miraculous properties of Capraia’s catnip).


Swim Around Capraia – April 27, 2024, 1:00 p.m. – Massimiliano’s House

It’s still raining.

Andrea plays the piano, Laura buys the wine, Anna, the brilliant jack of all trades, prepares tomato pasta for the hungry crew.

Roberta grumbles that there’s no grater.

Cristina: “Aha, here I was waiting for you!” – and with a move to make the Wizard Otelma envious, pulls out the “red grater”… for grating Parmesan, of course!

Saved the tomato pasta and grated Parmesan in abundance, Sabrina, with disdain for danger, attempts a new (hot) shower.


Swim Around Capraia – April 28, 2024, 10:00 a.m. – Massimiliano’s House

The sun finally shines.

Cristina: “Sabri, do you want to come swim with us later?”

Sabrina (bewildered): “Eh? What? Who? Me?”

Roberta: “Hey, baluba, who else? Come on, we’re already ready.”

Sabrina remains silent and retreats like a crab, looking for an escape route, but stumbles, hits her bruised toe again, and with loud cries, begs: “To Milan. I want to go back to Milan.”

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Warning: No goats were harmed during the Swim Around Capraia.

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Special thanks to, in addition to the protagonists listed above, all those who believed in this Swim Around Capraia and offered their contribution.

Special thanks to:

  • Studio Legale Lexsential of Milan, for support with expenses incurred
  • The Italian Naval League – Capraia Island and the Abbracciamoli Association, for organization
  • The Municipality of Capraia and the Tuscan Archipelago National Park for their sponsorship
  • Azienda Agricola San Rocco of Capraia, for the generous supply of honey
  • Raw Bite, for the supply of energy bars
  • The LaMMa Toscana Consortium, for the weather service provided
  • The Gonzaga Sport Club of Milan, for the supply of the AED
  • Fontana&Fontana Pastry Shop, for the spring edition panettone

Visit Sabrina Peron’s blog Swimlosophy

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