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Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Tuomas Kaario Heading Across The Gulf Of Finland

Courtesy of WOWSA, Huntington Beach, California.

Tuomas Kaario is a Finnish open water swimmer who has completed a crossing of the English Channel in 2008 and will make an attempt of a 60 km crossing of the Gulf of Finland in August 2014.

His motivation and mindset are fascinating to learn.

The 42-year-old swimmer will start the 37.2-mile sea swim in Estonia, Rohuneeme close to Tallin with plans to finish in Porkkalanniemi, which is Kirkkonummi, near Helsinki. As he waits for the perfect conditions, he discusses his solo marathon swim:

"I have spent all the summers of my childhood by the sea. I learned to swim, fish and sail when I was still just a small child. The scent of the sea is something that is very dear to me. The catch in our nets often included large perches or pike-perches. The jellyfish we threw on the rock to dry up were the size of plates.

Swimming and moving in water have always been an integral part of who I am. What makes the situation slightly strange is that a part of me is still the same little boy who is afraid of water and afraid of the dark. This is why – or despite this – the sea holds its fascination.

In 2002 I began to practice open water swimming a bit more seriously. Having an island of one’s own was luxury. When I swam around the island I was never too far from the sauna and a good meal. I had soaked myself for hundreds of hours in the Baltic Sea to prepare for the swim across the English Channel.

It is intriguing how you only need to swim a short distance towards the horizon to be able to relax. Everything else fades to the background. This is an emotion I could not reach on a lake. And I do not mean only through swimming but from moving on the sea with any type of equipment. The Gulf of Finland has been extremely important to me also in terms of well-being. Without the sea and the time spent chopping wood at the cottage I do not know if I would still be ‘sane’.

In the summer of 2014 I intend to be the first person to swim across the Gulf of Finland. The coldness of the water, not the distance, is the greatest challenge, which makes it interesting. People tend to think that distance is the main consideration in open water swimming. But the Gulf of Finland is also not very warm. Surface waters are rarely above 20 °C. The journey will be everything but easy. Nevertheless, the mere thought of that 25 to 30 hour swim, the fact that it is possible, makes my palms sweat and my thoughts go awry

For more information and a first-person account of his dreams, visit here.

Tuomas Kaarion Kiririnki-video.

Photo by Päivi Pälvimäki.

Copyright © 2014 by World Open Water Swimming Association

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