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Wednesday, December 2, 2015

The Technicalities Of A Transatlantic Swim

Courtesy of WOWSA, Huntington Beach, California.

We have been on long swims before, across channels and lakes and down rivers, but swimming across an ocean is unfathomable to us.

But such a transoceanic swim is all in Michael Ventre's life plans. He wants to become the first person to swim 3,800 miles (6,115 km) from New York to London. We cannot even imagine if something goes wrong and the boat is still thousands of miles away from land.

But the 38-year-old from London has the estimated 7-month charity swim planned out - and with good intentions as he hopes to raise £5 million for Oxfam. "The swim could take around 7 months to complete. I'll have to deal with sharks, killer whales, jellyfish and extreme weather. My mental toughness is also going to be tested like never before. But I’m determined to do this for a much greater cause.

Once he steps off of Battery Park in Manhattan Island in New York City, he does not plan to stop his swim until he is in the Thames Estuary in London.

Daily News of Open Water Swimming: How many people are on your escort boat?

Michael Ventre: Once I’ve managed to secure the boat, I will need up to 16 crew. However, ideally will need two boats. The main boat which I will swim alongside, but also a second boat to rendevous with us every few weeks to re-supply us with food and fuel and crew rotation.

Daily News of Open Water Swimming: What size and kind of escort boat will you use?

Michael Ventre: This will depend on the best, safest and most affordable vessel. Ideally a minimum length of 75 feet, but ideally 150 feet – the bigger the better, especially for weathering storms and rough seas. It will really depend on the contribution of corporate partners. A sailing yacht or catamaran will be ideal to save on cost of fuel, but otherwise a trawler or motor vessel with enough fuel storage to get to the United Kingdom over a 5-month period would be perfect. The vessel will need to be Atlantic-worthy with all the required navigation and satellite equipment as well as all necessary safety equipment on board.

Daily News of Open Water Swimming: How much fuel do you expect to carry?

Michael Ventre: Not sure of exact amount, but if it’s a motor vessel it will need enough fuel for traveling 2 to 3 knots per hour for 8 hours a day for 5 months at a minimum. Daily News of Open Water Swimming: Who is your pilot?

Michael Ventre: Crew has not yet been chosen as we still need to secure the support vessels.

Daily News of Open Water Swimming: What is the total estimated cost of the swim?

Michael Ventre: Just under £2 million, but I will be looking to raise £5 million for Oxfam once the swim is confirmed as going ahead.

Daily News of Open Water Swimming: Will you swim every day?

Michael Ventre: If conditions are good, then yes I will swim every day. I may also fall ill or have to wait for re-supply vessel or wait for bad weather to pass where no swimming will take place. I estimate that there will therefore be several days I will not swim.

Daily News of Open Water Swimming: How many hours per day do you expect to swim? What time during the day?

Michael Ventre: 6 to 8 hours per day according to the following schedule:

* Swim 7 am to 9 am
* Rest 9 am to 10 am
* Swim 10 am to 12 pm
* Lunch 12 pm to 1 pm
* Swim 1 pm to 3 pm
* Rest 3 pm to 4 pm
* Swim 4 pm to 6 pm
* Dinner at 7 pm
* Sleep at 10 pm

More info about the technicalities of the swim are posted here.

Daily News of Open Water Swimming: Why now?

Michael Ventre: It's 7 years in the making as I needed to get a few big swims under my belt for my own confidence and to prove to the world that I can do this. Done the English Channel, Molokai Channel, and the Catalina Channel, and the Winter World Championships in Latvia and Finland.

Daily News of Open Water Swimming: What kinds of food are you taking along on the 7-month journey?

Michael Ventre: I have a company called Adventure Foods who will be supplying me with high calorific boil in the bag meals. I will also be eating the same food as the crew which will be regular food as supplied by shipping catering companies. I also have Torq Fitness who will be supplying me with supplements to keep my energy levels to a maximum while in the water as well as help with recovery when on the boat.

Daily News of Open Water Swimming: What do your parents think of this?

Michael Ventre: They were horrified at first, but know that I am committed to making this happen so they are slowly coming round to the idea.

Daily News of Open Water Swimming: Have you ever swum more than 8 hours on any 3 consecutive days? What did that feel like?

Michael Ventre: I have not swum for 8 hours over 3 consecutive days, but I’ve done monster channel swims. The Molokai Channel was 22 and half hours non-stop. Next year, I will be spending a couple weeks on board a boat and swimming 8 hours a day and not setting foot on land for the full two weeks. That will be the best way to simulate the actual swim.

Daily News of Open Water Swimming: What are your intended shark deterrent tools, if any?

Michael Ventre: Yes I will be using Shark Shield – I’ve used it before and it definitely does the job.

Daily News of Open Water Swimming: What happens in severe weather?

Michael Ventre: We will have to wait it out until it passes or if it’s too severe to do that then we will have to out run the weather – we will have all the necessary meteorologist equipment so we should be able to accurately forecast potential bad weather spots.

Daily News of Open Water Swimming: Why start in April?

Michael Ventre: This will give me the safest opportunity to do the crossing. The hurricane season peaks just off the coast of the USA late August and early September by which time I should already be in the English Channel so I will have missed the brunt of the storms. I should then also be able to make it to London before the winter sets in.

Daily News of Open Water Swimming: What is the water temperature like across the Atlantic Ocean?

Michael Ventre: It will be 9ºC in New York at the start, but then over the next few weeks it will gradually rise as I move into summer. I will then be in the gulf stream 200 miles from the start and temperatures in the stream range from 16ºC to 24ºC.

Daily News of Open Water Swimming: No wetsuit or wetsuit?

Michael Ventre: I will wear a wetsuit when conditions get a bit hairy, but when the temperature and conditions are ideal, then I will swim without a wetsuit.

Daily News of Open Water Swimming: What are your motivational speeches like or cover?

Michael Ventre: At the moment they are focused on the big swim and past swims and what motivates me and talking about Oxfam and ending extreme poverty over the next 15 years. But I can also taper my talks to fit a particular audience if requested.

For more information, visit www.newyorktolondonswim.com.

Copyright © 2015 by World Open Water Swimming Association

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