DNOWS Header

Image Map

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Swimming Professor Andreas Fath Researches The Rhine

Courtesy of WOWSA, Huntington Beach, California.

Professor Dr. Andreas Fath of Germany is nominated for the 2015 World Open Water Swimming Performance of the Year for his 25-stage, 28-day 1,231 km (765-mile) stage swim along the length of the Rhine River from Lake Toma in the Graubünden Alps of Switzerland to the North Sea estuary in Hook of the Netherlands.

The Swimming Professor from Furtwangen University dealt with heavy rains, strong currents and changing weather conditions while conducting research and testing with an European team of scientific collaborators. The Professor not only swam the mighty Rhine, but he also stayed true to his calling as a teaching professor, research scientist and accomplished inventor.

The Professor of Physical and Analytical Chemistry who specializes in Ecological Engineering tested the micro-plastics pollution in the Rhine in a search for removing these substances with a unique chip and membrane attached to his leg. For his Rheines Wasser (Swim for Science) that combined athletics, navigation, logistics and science, for leading a scientific and logistics team from across Europe, and for testing the water for industrial chemicals, hormones, antidepressants, sweeteners, antibiotics, painkillers, drugs, pathogens and micro-plastics, Professor Fath's Rheines Wasser was a truly noteworthy adventure and scientific endeavor.

Back in 1969, Austrian adventurer Klaus Pechstein attempted to swim 1,231 km (765 miles) in an assisted (wetsuit) stage swim along the entire length of the Rhine River from Switzerland to the Netherlands. He made a valiant attempt in an earlier era, but he was forced to abandon his attempt somewhere in Rotterdam.

Time passed before The Swimming Professor took up the challenge.

Despite heavy rains, strong currents and frequently changing weather conditions, the Professor ultimately completed his goal.

The Professor not only swam the mighty Rhine, but he also stayed true to his calling as a teaching professor, research scientist and accomplished inventor. While Professor Fath swim from Lake Toma in the Graubünden Alps of Switzerland to the North Sea estuary in Hook of the Netherlands, he also conducted 28 days of unprecedented research in the Rhine.

Yes, I am a bit crazy,” laughs Dr. Fath, a Furtwangen University Professor of Physical and Analytical Chemistry specializing in Ecological Engineering about his 1,231 km Rheines Wasser (Swim for Science). But he is also as inventive and inspirational as he is crazy.

As a long-distance swimmer, I am passionate about water which also explains my interest as a scientist. Of course, the river will test me, but I’m going to test the river, too. I’m interested in how good the quality of the water all along the Rhine is, between the Alps and the North Sea.”

His Rheines Wasser was an athletic, navigational, logistical and scientific challenge. He gathered a large scientific and logistics team [see below] of colleagues and students from Furtwangen University and partners from the Water Technology Centre in Karlsruhe, the Alfred Wegener Institute in Helgoland, the University of Bayreuth, the Swiss aquatic research institute EAWAG, and the Dutch centre of excellence for sustainable water technology Wetsus.

Dr. Fath took water samples taken throughout his 28 days in the Rhine and tested the water for industrial chemicals, hormones, antidepressants, sweeteners, antibiotics, painkillers, drugs, pathogens and micro-plastics. His project team also measured current speed, pH values, conductivity and the temperature of the water. “We collected a great deal of new scientific data including, for example, the level of micro-plastics’ pollution in the Rhine between the source and the North Sea. My real goal in the long run, after we analyzed the results of the Rhine measurements and determined the source of the pollutants, is to develop systems and processes which remove these substances before they even reach the water.

While the former competitive swimmer spent a year training for the swim, he also prepared unique methods and instruments to test the water. He used a chip - that can detect up to 150 micro-organisms such as pathogens or bio indicators at the same time - and a special plastic membrane attached to the lower legs of his wetsuit in order to collected samples of the organic materials that he swam into.

The team included Martin Aichele, Windy Asridya, Johannes Baudrexel, Max Bodendorf, Michael Böhm, Tim Bornschein, Hubert Braxmaier, Dennis Carrer, Tatjana Engel, Christian Gehrig, Carsten Hennig, Anne Jenner, Dennis Kipper, Philipp Kron, Jana Lipowsky, Jonas Loritz, Erik Meiß, Philipp Walter Neek, Jutta Neumann, Achim Rau, Mario Siebold, Carsten Tessmer, Tam-Tam Tran, captain Bernhard Vondenbusch, Helga Weinschrott, Norbert Kopp, Daniel Albiez, Franz Wölfle, Felix Wölfle, Helena Herner, Marina Taichrib, Morag Lehmann, Nicola Fath, and Leo Fath.

The 25 stages of this swim included the following:

Etappe 1: Lake Toma – Ilanz
Etappe 2: Ilanz – Chur
Etappe 3: Chur – Sargans
Etappe 4: Sargans – St. Margrethen
Etappe 5: St. Margrethen – Constance
Etappe 6: Constance – Stein am Rhein
Etappe 7: Stein am Rhein – Eglisau
Etappe 8: Eglisau – Bad Säckingen
Etappe 9: Bad Säckingen – Basel
Etappe 10: Basel – Breisach
Etappe 11: Breisach – Kehl
Etappe 12: Kehl – Karlsruhe
Etappe 13: Karlsruhe – Mannheim
Etappe 14: Mannheim – Mainz
Etappe 15: Mainz – St. Goar
Etappe 16: St. Goar – Koblenz
Etappe 17: Koblenz – Bonn
Etappe 18: Bonn – Köln
Etappe 19: Köln – Düsseldorf
Etappe 20: Düsseldorf – Götterswickerhamm
Etappe 21: Götterswickerhamm – Emmerich
Etappe 22: Emmerich – Wageningen
Etappe 23: Wageningen – Vreeswijk
Etappe 24: Vreeswijk – Rotterdam
Etappe 25: Rotterdam – Hoek van Holland

For more information on his stage swim, visit here.

To vote for the WOWSA Awards, visit here. Voting continues until December 31st 2015.

Copyright © 2015 by World Open Water Swimming Association

A Thank You Gift from WOWSA

WOWSA is celebrating the
1-Year Anniversary of the monthly Open Water Swimming Magazine
by giving you a free copy of the anniversary issue.

Open Water Swimming Magazine Anniversary Issue
File Size: 13MB


Download the file to your computer, and then right-click to extract the magazine which is inside the zip folder. The magazine is in PDF format.

CLICK HERE to download your free copy now.

Open Water Swimming Magazine

Open Water Swimming Magazine

The Open Water Swimming Magazine is the monthly magazine entirely focused on open water swimming heroes and heroines of every age, ability, and background. Published by the World Open Water Swimming Association, the Open Water Swimming Magazine is a free benefit to WOWSA members.

WOWSA Member Benefits include 12 issues of the Open Water Swimming Magazine, the annual 276-page Open Water Swimming Almanac, a free listing in Sponsor My Swim, outstanding product discounts from FINIS, an entry in Openwaterpedia and more...

The Other Shore

The Other Shore follows world record holder and legendary swimmer Diana Nyad as she comes out of a thirty-year retirement to re-attempt an elusive dream: swimming 103 miles non-stop from Cuba to Florida without the use of a shark cage. Her past and present collide in her obsession with a feat that nobody has ever accomplished. At the edge of The Devil’s Triangle, tropical storms, sharks, venomous jellyfish, and one of the strongest ocean currents in the world, all prove to be life-threatening realities. Timothy Wheeler’s documentary brings Diana Nyad’s extraordinary adventure to life as Diana sets out to prove that will and determination are all you need to make the unimaginable possible.

2014 Open Water Swimming Almanac

An Almanac for Open Water Swimming

An almanac is essentially a body of knowledge which is so complete that it enables people in different fields to make predictions about the future of their respective industries.

This, for example, was the purpose of the traditional farmers almanacs. It enabled farmers to determine as accurately as possible which crops to plant for the greatest harvests in a given year.

But the farmers almanac was just one example among many.
There are, of course, many different kinds of almanacs.

In fact, there is even one for open water swimming...

Preview the Open Water Swimming Almanac:

The trends are very clear.
The tide is rising for open water swimming.


Open Water Swimming Event Sanctioning

World Professional Marathon Swimming Federation

Open Water Race Calendar

Coaches Education Program