DNOWS Header

Image Map

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Orcas And Whirlpools Into The Maelstrom

Photo of Calum and Jack Hudson, courtesy of James Silson.

Photo of Calum Hudson, courtesy of Beth Harrison.

Photo of Robbie Hudson in the Saltstraumen, courtesy of Erlend Bodo Nu.

Courtesy of WOWSA, Huntington Beach, California.

Into the Maelstrom was an tandem swim by Jack Hudson, Calum Hudson and Robbie Hudson across the two most powerful whirlpools in the world: the Moskstraumen and Saltstraumen, both in Norway.

The two whirlpool swims - set above the Arctic Circle - were part of Into The Maelstrom that was nominated for the 2016 World Open Water Swimming Performance of the Year Award.

Eldest brother Robbie Hudson talked about these swims:

Daily News of Open Water Swimming: What most worried you before your swims in each of the whirlpools?

Robbie Hudson: The cold, the currents and the Orcas. This was the first time any of us had ever swum in the Arctic, and the water was around 9°C (48°F), so this aspect of the swim definitely weighed on my mind before we travelled up to Norway. Prolonged exposure to the cold can begin to affect the way you think, generally for the worse, and it was so important that we stayed strong mentally if we wanted to make it through the two whirlpools. Four months of cold showers and acclimatisation paid off in the end.

Daily News of Open Water Swimming: What most worried you during your swims in each of the whirlpools?

Robbie Hudson: Definitely the currents. We knew they would be unpredictable, but there was also no guarantee that either whirlpool was even swimmable, because no one had ever done them before. If we had taken 20-30 seconds longer on our Saltstraumen crossing, then we would have been swept away for sure. The margin for error was so slight, but we trusted the professionals that we worked with and their experience with the water and powerful currents.

On the Moskstraumen, once we hit the 5 km mark, we were hit by an icy current that cut right through to the bone and began to sweep us off course. That was mentally tough for a while, but we powered through. It’s in moments like that when swimming as brothers can be a huge help. When I look left and see Jack, then lift my head to breathe on the right and see Calum, it’s a reminder that it’s a rare and special experience to swim across the world’s biggest whirlpool with your brothers by your side.

Daily News of Open Water Swimming: What safety precautions did you implement during your swims in each of the whirlpools?

Robbie Hudson: First and foremost, we respected the water. We worked with Knut Westvig of Stella Polaris in our crossing of the Saltstraumen, and Therese Amalie Holtan Larsen from Aqua Lofoten for the Moskstraumen. These individuals advised us on the best time to cross, and accompanied us in their boats. Both Therese and Knut visit these places daily and were aware of the dangers.

They both thought we were slightly mad, but understood why we wanted to do it. They were pragmatic and exceptionally helpful in sharing their expertise with us. We swam with tow floats and each brother had a spotter in the boat that looked out for us. Because the Moskstraumen was a longer 8 km point-to-point sea swim, we answered simple questions every half hour that were shouted down at us from the boat, just to make sure hypothermia wasn’t setting in because of the Arctic waters.

Daily News of Open Water Swimming: What contingency plans did you have for each of your swims in the whirlpools?

Robbie Hudson: With the Moskstraumen, there was a very real chance of seeing an Orca pod, as many of the animals had been spotted the previous day before we swam. In case they re-appeared, we were going to re-group by the boat and assess the situation. Secretly Calum, Jack and I knew we would want to continue, even in this scenario, but we would have listened to Theresa’s decision as to whether or not it would have been too dangerous to carry on.

Daily News of Open Water Swimming: Who was on your support team?

Robbie Hudson: The support team included Beth Harrison who is Jack’s girlfriend and spotter, a photographer and camerawomen, David Renton, our general spotter, cameraman, and underwater photographer, James Silson, Robbie’s Spotter, a drone pilot, and an underwater photographer, and Luke Palmer, a photographer, Calum’s spotter, and general inspirational figurehead who offered motivational words of encouragement when we were tired and threw bananas at us when we were hungry.

Daily News of Open Water Swimming: What was most exciting about your swims?

Robbie Hudson: The feeling of setting out on an adventure to try something that had never been done before. It was both terrifying and exhilarating to plunge into the Arctic waters knowing that we were heading into an 8 km maelstrom.

We swam to raise awareness of the conservation work that is taking place around the Lofoten Islands and the potential damage that could be inflicted if large scale drilling takes place. It was exciting to feel that our swims could perhaps have some kind of wider and helpful context as well as being physical and psychological challenges.

Finally, it is always exciting to undertake these adventures with my brothers, there is no one else I would rather be swimming with.

Daily News of Open Water Swimming: What were some of the outcomes that you realized as a result of these swims?

Robbie Hudson: I think one of the main outcomes was the way that it helped us to re-assess the way that we perceive the limitations of what we are, and are not, capable of doing. I think generally that people are much more capable of overcoming challenges than they realise. Sometimes it takes a giant leap into the unknown to really test your own limits.

The other big lesson for me personally was the importance of being able to stay calm, relaxed and focused, no matter what the situation and environment. With both of these swims, if we ever started to panic then everything could have been over very quickly.

Daily News of Open Water Swimming: How in the world do you top this challenge?

Robbie Hudson: It isn’t really a question of trying to top the swims. We all feel very lucky to be able to take part in these adventures in such beautiful parts of the world. We have been swimming together since we were tiny kids, and I don’t see any reason for that to change, wherever we decide to go in the world.

The nominees for the 2016 World Open Water Swimming Performance of the Year Award include:

1. Toshio Tominaga (Japan) Tsugaru Channel Crossing
2. Craig Dietz (Kingdom Swim Marathon Swim)
3. Sarah Thomas (USA) Lake Powell Crossing
4. Jennifer Figge (USA) Bermuda Triangle Swim
5. Pieter Christian Jongeneel Anderica (Spain) Double Manhattan Circumnavigation
6. Dan Canta (Romania) Triple Crown of Open Water Swimming
7. Sean Conway (Great Britain) Swim Leg of the World's Longest Triathlon
8. Hudson Brothers (Great Britain) Into the Maelstrom
9. Cristian Vergara (Chile) Easter Island Circumnavigation
10. Jarrod Poort (Australia) Olympic 10K Marathon Swim
11. Javier Mérida Prieto (Spain) Triple Crown of Open Water Swimming
12. Patrick McKnight (USA) Triple Crown of Open Water Swimming
13. Spyridon Gianniotis (Greece) Olympic 10K Marathon Swim
14. Malvinas/Falklands Islands Challenge by Matías Ola (Argentina) and Jackie Cobell (Great Britain)
15. Stephanie Hopson (USA) English Channel Crossing
16. Carol Schumacher Hayden (USA) Catalina Channel Crossing
17. Vasilly Mosin (Russia) Winter Swimming

To vote for the WOWSA Awards, visit here. Online voting continues until December 31st 2016.

Copyright © 2016 by World Open Water Swimming Association

No comments:

Post a Comment

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

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