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Thursday, February 9, 2012

Entertaining, Engrossing, Encouraging, Enthusiastic - Martin Strel

Open Water Source enjoyed a day in South Africa with Martin Strel, known as the Big River Man. The Slovenian multiple world record holder cheered on the athletes at today's Speedo 10km Challenge at Midmar Mile week while his passion and love for all things open water swimming was clearly evident from morning to evening.

At his breakfast speeches and over dinner meetings, he enthralled his guests, fans and friends with stories of his unprecedented experiences around the world.

He talked about his 4,003K (2,487-mile) stage swim down the Yangtze River in China. He explained how he started at 1,920m (6300 feet) at the beginning of the Yangtze River and arrived in the East China Sea in Shanghai 40 days later. With the volume of water flowing downstream from such altitude, Martin recalled how he was swimming at 27-28 km per hour at times and how he always had to be careful of the dangerous, life-threatening undercurrents. "You cannot imagine how fast Martin was swimming, but we had to be careful at all times," said his son and right-hand man Borut Strel.

In contrast, Martin battled his way down the 5,268K (3,273 miles) of the Amazon River, traversing along three countries. "The Amazon was murky and the dangers were everywhere. Pirates were watching us and we worked with local guides who helped us get out of difficult situations."

The dangers he described ranged from piranhas to bacteria. "The Yangtze was so polluted. It is pollution chemically and it really took a lot out of me. Every day, I had to take medicines and spent 5-6 hours in a hospital to recover. Every day. And the doctors would then call ahead to the next hospital who they get ready for me."

"Sometimes, we would touch him and he would cry out in pain because it hurt so much. It was incredible to see," said Borut who is his father's computer-savvy logistics expert. "Normal people cannot do that. He is able to separate his physical pain from his goal of swimming the big rivers.

And the logistics were difficult, but we had to be prepared for everything. We had Internet connection and satellite phone capabilities in the Amazon - deep in the heart of the jungle. This was not only to provide information on his swim on a daily basis, but also as a safety measure. If something happened to us, we had to be able to communicate
."

And communicates he does. "In many places, people could not believe we were swimming. There are places in Peru along the Amazon River where the local people do not know where the Amazon ends. There are over 1000 tributaries flowing into the Amazon. Unlike the Yangtze River where we had to navigate down thousands of meters in altitude, there is only a 253-meter drop from the beginning to the end of the Amazon. So the water in the Amazon flows much slower at 4-6 kilometer per hour, but there are eddies and undercurrents that can suck you down and take you somewhere."

But Martin's approach is systematic and professional. "Swimming, I can do. But we also have much logistics and planning. We study everything. We study the currents, the marine life and all the logistics and communications. We have a great team, from 7 different countries. They are the best in the world. And I am not just saying that. We face so much on the swims. But people can get tired during the swims. So I always have to think how to keep everyone on my team focused and friendly with each other."

Focused and friendly, those are just two of the characteristics that Martin has in abundance. He has a way to put people at ease, while also entertaining them with his exploits and inspiring them how he goes about realizing his dreams.

"There are so many beautiful places in the world. Swimming is such a great lifestyle. Now many people are doing adventure swims like Martin," explains Borut. "We have people from all over the world with a goal of leading a healthy lifestyle and exploring the beautiful locations to swim. They don't have to swim fast; they just enjoy it."

As Martin has done all his life.

Copyright © 2012 by Open Water Source

1 comment:

  1. Well written Steve. Thanks. Martin and I both enjoyed dinner with you and Ashley.

    ReplyDelete

Thank you very much for your interest in the world of open water swimming.

The Staff of the World Open Water Swimming Association

2014 Global Open Water Swimming Conference

Learn more...
Courtesy of WOWSA, Huntington Beach, California.

CLICK HERE TO REGISTER FOR THE CONFERENCE

The Global Open Water Swimming Conference is a conference on the sport of open water swimming, marathon swimming and swimming during triathlons and multi-sport endurance events.

The conference which has been attended by enthusiasts and luminaries from 6 continents, is devoted to providing information about the latest trends, race tactics, training techniques, equipment, psychological preparation, race organization and safety practices used in the sports of open water swimming, marathon swimming and triathlons.

The conference's mission is to provide opportunities to listen and meet many of the world's most foremost experts in open water swimming, and to meet and discuss the sport among swimmers, coaches, administrators, event organizers, sponsors, vendors, officials, escort pilots, and volunteers from kayakers to safety personnel.

Dozens of presentations at the 2014 Conference at the Mount Stuart House cover numerous aspects of the vast and growing world of open water swimming where attendees can learn and share the latest trends, race tactics, training modalities, swimming techniques, equipment, race organization, logistics, operations, and safety practices for open water swimming as a solo swimmer, competitive athlete, fitness swimmer, masters swimmer, triathlete, multi-sport athlete, administrator, race promoter, sponsor or referee.

The conference was first held in Long Beach, California as part of the 2010 USA Swimming National Open Water Swimming Championships. It has since been held on the Queen Mary in California, at Columbia University and the United Nations in New York City, and in Cork, Ireland. This year in September, it comes to another iconic location, the Mount Stuart House on the Isle of Bute in Scotland.

"The Global Open Water Swimming Conference was started due to the desire and need for athletes, coaches, referees, administrators, race directors, promoters and sponsors from around the world to share, collect and learn information about the growing sports of open water swimming, marathon swimming and triathlons," said founder Steven Munatones. "Other swimming conferences usually offering nothing on open water swimming or perhaps a speech or two, but we thought open water swimming deserves its own global conference. It is great that the community shares its information via the online social network, but there is nothing like meeting other open water swimming enthusiasts face-to-face and talking about the sport from morning to night."

Speakers at the conference include English Channel swimmers, ice swimmers, record holders, renowned coaches, world champions, professional marathon swimmers, renowned race directors, officials and administrators from the Africa, Americas, Asia, Europe and Oceania.

"Because the audience is passionate and educated about the sport and its finest practitioners, the Global Open Water Swimming Conference is also the location of the induction ceremonies for the International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame and the annual WOWSA Awards that recognize the World Open Water Swimming Man of the Year, the World Open Water Swimming Woman of the Year, the World Open Water Swimming Performance of the Year, and the World Open Water Swimming Offering of the Year. Special Lifetime Achievement Awards are also occasionally presented to individuals who have made significant contributions to the sport over their career."

The 2014 Global Open Water Swimming Conference Programme

Wednesday, September 17th
Leave Glasgow to commence 2-day tour of Scotland [closest international airport is Glasgow]

Thursday, September 18th
Stay Mainland, North of Scotland

Friday, September 19th
14:00 - Swim Loch Lomond
17:00 - Head to Isle of Bute
19:30 - Scottish Banquet
21:30 - Dinner Dance

Saturday, September 20th
09:00 - Registration & Coffee
10:00 - Speeches
12:20 - Lunch and WOWSA Awards
13:40 – Speeches
15:40 - Round Table
19:00 - International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame Dinner & Induction Ceremony

Sunday, September 21st
09:00 - Registration & Coffee
10:00 - Speeches
14:30 - Swim in St Ninian's Bay on the Isle of Bute

The luminaries of the open water swimming world who will be honored in Scotland will include:

* Sandra Bucha (U.S.A.), International Swimming Hall of Fame Honor Open Water Swimmer and International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame Honour Swimmer
* Jon Erikson (U.S.A.), International Swimming Hall of Fame Honor Open Water Swimmer
* Claudio Plit (Argentina), International Swimming Hall of Fame Honor Open Water Swimmer
* Judith van Berkel-de Njis (Netherlands), International Swimming Hall of Fame Honor Open Water Swimmer
* David Yudovin (U.S.A.), International Swimming Hall of Fame Honor Open Water Swimmer
* Mercedes Gleitze (Great Britain), International Swimming Hall of Fame Honor Open Water Swimmer
* George Young (Canada), International Swimming Hall of Fame Honor Open Water Swimmer
* Dale Petranech (U.S.A.), International Swimming Hall of Fame Honor Open Water Contributor
* Melissa Cunningham (Australia), 2013 Irving Davids-Captain Roger Wheeler Memorial Award winner
* Vojislav Mijić (Serbia), International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame Honour Swimmer
* James Anderson (U.S.A.), International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame Honour Administrator
* Dr. Jane Katz (U.S.A.), International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame Honour Administrator
* Indonesian Swimming Federation, , International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame Honour Organisation
* Elizabeth Fry (U.S.A.), International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame Honour Swimmer
* Pádraig Mallon (Ireland), the 2013 World Open Water Swimming Man of the Year
* Olga Kozydub (Russia), the 2013 World Open Water Swimming Woman of the Year
* Bering Strait Swim (international team), the 2013 World Open Water Swimming Performance of the Year
* International Ice Swimming Association (Ram Barkai, founder, South Africa), the 2013 World Open Water Swimming Offering of the Year

For additional articles on the 2014 Global Open Water Swimming Conference, visit:

* Olga Kozydub To Be Honored In Scotland
* Pádraig Mallon To Be Honored In Mount Stuart Castle
* Mount Stuart House, Splendid Setting For Swimming
* Colleen Blair To Kick-off Global Open Water Swimming Conference
* The Man Who Swims Better Than He Walks
* Joining In The Sea Goddess At The Hall Of Fame
* Mercedes Gleitze To Be Honored In Scotland
* The Incredible Career Of Merceded Gleitze
* Jon Erikson To Be Honoured In Florida
* The Incredible Career Of Mercedes Gleitze
* St Ninian's Bay To Host International Swim Conference

Copyright © 2014 by World Open Water Swimming Association

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