(By Correne Coetzer) A swim relay across the Bering Strait between Russian and America is about to start on August 3rd. Forty cold water swimmers from fourteen countries will be participating in the first attempt of this kind.
The organizers described the water conditions as powerful waves and treacherously strong currents, with the maximum average water temperature between Cape Dezhnev, Russia, and Cape Prince of Wales, Alaska, only just above freezing, 41°F (5°C).
The Bering Strait is 53 miles (86 km) wide, but factoring in the current, the total swim distance will be approximately 68 miles (110 km), explained the organizers. "In this frigid water, hypothermia could set in after only half an hour. So the swimmers will swim in 20-minute legs with a 10-hour rest in between. Each swimmer will complete three to four legs and the whole swim is estimated to take 40-50 hours to complete, meaning each athlete will swim 3-4 times." One swimmer of each team will be in the water while the others will wait on board a support ship.
The South African team reported that all the teams had gathered in Yakutsk, Siberia, where they attended a press conference with the Yakutsk president addressing them, traditional ceremonies took place, as well as a flag-demonstrating swim. "We were advised that our chartered pilots for tomorrow's flight to Anadyr are 'not experienced enough' to make the hectic landing required, so our military plane will take us straight to Kamchatka and board our ship. Then 4 days and 4 nights on the Bering Sea to reach Uelen." According to the plan, they will be on the ship for 10 days.
In 2006 Dimitri Kieffer and Karl Busby crossed the Bering Strait without support by walking on stable ice, crawling on unstable ice, climbing over ridges and swimming in open water while pulling sleds with their provisions. The duo started from Wales, Alaska, and landed in Uelen, Chukotka, Russia. They completed the 200 miles / 322 kilometers in 14 days from March 17-31, 2006. 5 days were spent swimming.
#Polar #BeringStrait #Swimrelay #Oceans
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