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Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Unprecedented Pitcairn - Alex Kostich's Circumnavigation

Courtesy of Alex Kostich, Pitcairn Island, Pacific Ocean.

Sometime between April 2nd and 9th, Alex Kostich will attempt to become the first person to circumnavigate Pitcairn Island in a non-stop unassisted solo swim.

Kostich explains his goal, "Pitcairn is the least populous and most remote national jurisdiction in the world. The Pitcairn Islanders are a biracial ethnic group descended mostly from nine Bounty mutineers and the handful of Tahitians who accompanied them, an event that has been retold in many books and films. This history is still apparent in the surnames of many of the islanders. Today there are approximately 50 permanent inhabitants, originating from four main families.

My swim attempt will be dependent on conditions to be assessed during my three days on-island. I will be accompanied by two kayaks, one which will be operated by the island’s resident doctor who will monitor my safety and progress. The other kayak will be operated by two witnesses, Stephen Childers and James Finnerty of Lupine Travel who obtained the necessary clearances for the swim attempt with the island locals.

The total distance around the island will be determined by the route we take and the currents; but the distance appears to be 9.8 km [see above]. However, due to the safety of swimming near the rock-strewn shorebreak and strong currents, the actual swimming distance could be considerably longer. There are also sharks to consider; while no attacks have been documented the island consists of only 49 permanent residents who fish for sustenance, but do not swim, in the surrounding waters

Kostich is supported by E-Shark Force, a Maui-based company that developed a shark-deterrent ankle device. He will wear one of their ankle bracelets designed to repel sharks for the duration of my swim.

Kostich talked about the genesis of the unprecedented swim and his preparations, "The idea for this attempt was hatched last year prior to my shoulder surgery on September 27th to address chronic rotator cuff inflammation, a separated bicep from the main shoulder, and a labral tear. As something to look forward to during my 3-month recovery out of the pool, I planned this swim as a way of staying motivated.

Now that I am back to training consistently, my goal is to build back up to 8 km daily by March, in order to comfortably and efficiently complete the swim in April. Since I cannot predict how my shoulder will respond to the increased intensity and yardage, I felt this goal is reasonable, though not guaranteed; exactly the type of challenge that will inspire me to be methodical and consistent in the weeks ahead without overdoing it with aggressive or premature pace or speedwork.

Hammer Nutrition will supply Kostich with nutritional packets to consume leading up to and during the swim. "I have previously relied on the Hammer products, most notably during my 18 km circumnavigation around Bora Bora in 2013 [read here]."

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