Swimming The King Distance, Kattegat Svømning
Courtesy of Dennis Seiler-Holm, Denmark.
Interest and achievements in marathon swimming are increasing significantly in Denmark over the last decade. Dennis Seiler-Holm, a Danish Guinness World Record holder, explains, “There is a lot of swimming distances and routes, but there are no rules or regulations. People are swimming in wetsuits and use all kinds of equipment, taking glory away from the real marathon swimmers we have had in Denmark in the past.
Between 1930 and 1940, there were some excellent marathon swimmers in Denmark, but there is a gap from then and to date. In Denmark, there is a 37 km swim called ‘The King Distance’ or ‘King of the Sea‘ that was first swum in 1938. The start of the swim is Gniben on Sealand and the finish is in Jutland.
The ocean between Gniben, Sealand and Jutland is called Kattegat – like the City in HBO TV Series Vikings. But in the real life, there is not a city called Kattegat – it is an ocean. The Kattegat Swim is referred to ‘The King distance of Open Water Swimming’ in Denmark. To date, only five people have conquered that ocean in the old-fashioned way. Others have swum the distance, but not according to traditional open water regulations:
In July 1937, 19-year-old Jenny Kammersgaard attempted to swim across the Kattegat from Gniben to Grenaa in the Danish part of the Baltic Sea, the longest any woman had swum at the time (Kattegat Svømning). She was forced to quit on the advice of her doctor -as she was protesting to allow her to continue – after swimming 20 hours on this attempt.
A month later on August 7th, she swam 42 km from Gniben to Grenaa across the Kattegat in 29 hours 13 minutes after she changed her medical advisor. The swim distance was later inaccurately reported as 70 km, 75 km, and later 93 km (see memorial stone below that is at Gniben Strand on Sjællands Odde). She was widely celebrated in Denmark and her swim was memorialized by a song written in her honor: Jenny – Du er et Eventyr (or Jenny – You are an Adventure in English).
Later on August 4th 1938, a Swedish swimmer Sally Bauer replicated her Kattegat swim in 17 hours 5 minutes as she swam from Gniben to Hou Knuden. Two days later, Edmund Olsen, another Danish swimmer, completed a swim in 18 hours 25 minutes from Gniben to Kobbergård. In the 1950’s, there was two other men who also completed the distance.
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