Michael Ventre, a 39-year-old IT engineer, will attempt a 6,115 km (3,800-mile) river-to-river stage swim from New York to London in April 2017 in order to raise millions for Oxfam.
The unprecedented swim from his start in the Hudson River in New York to the Thames in central London may take him anywhere between 4 and 7 months where he may face orcas, sharks and jellyfish to hurricanes.
But his most difficulty may be raising the requisite corporate and financial backing in order to make his attempt a reality. He is seeking funding via brand sponsorship and donations during his final crowdfunding campaign between January 30th and February 3rd.
Ventre, who successfully swam the English Channel in 2011, plans to make his world-first attempt at swimming the Atlantic in April this year. The unprecedented open water challenge will take him between four and seven months and will present an incredible test of resilience as he navigates everything from orcas, sharks and jellyfish to hurricanes.
While Ventre has also completed a crossing of the Molokai Channel in Hawaii and the Catalina Channel in California as well as a swim from Robben Island to Blouberg in Cape Town. He has also competed twice in the Winter World Championships in Latvia and Finland.
“I have been dreaming of swimming seemingly impossible distances since I was 10 when I watched England’s Thomas Gregory become the youngest person to swim the English Channel on TV in 1988,” wrote Ventre. Born to British parents in landlocked Botswana, he lived far from any channel, ocean or seashore. But from that day on Ventre was determined to swim across the English Channel, the first of many extreme swims – the most difficult coming up soon.
Daily News of Open Water Swimming: What range of water temperatures do you expect during your crossing? Will the water temperatures change from location to location and from month to month?
Michael Ventre: Yes, from the start in New York it will be around 9°C (48°F). When in the Gulf Stream it will range between 19°C to 23°C (66°-73°F)
Daily News of Open Water Swimming: After each swim, will you mark the location where you get out via GPS and then get back in at or near that specific point?
Michael Ventre: Yes, I will swim alongside a support vessel where I will rest in the evenings; a GPS reading will be taken each time I leave the water where I will pick back up the following day.
Daily News of Open Water Swimming: How will you handle the drift via currents or waves? Won’t that use up a lot of fuel?
Michael Ventre: My captain explains, “The parachute sea anchor slows the drift caused by wind and waves to a minimum. The ocean currents will cause drift as the speed that they flow. Most currents are 0.5 to max 1 knots. Some areas like the Gulf Stream are 2 knots. If there is, for example, an 8-hour break from swimming, the boat would drift 0.5 knots x 8 hours or 4 miles. The crew take distance drifted from last water exit waypoint into consideration and sail or steam back to location to be at position at scheduled swim time. For example, if we drifted 6 miles, sail at 6 knots for 1 hour before Michael wants to be at last waypoint. As the support vessel is a sailing vessel, we will sail as much as possible to conserve fuel.”
Daily News of Open Water Swimming: Who is on your escort boat crew? Can you provide their names and responsibilities?
Michael Ventre: Only once the swim is confirmed. I will know on the 5th of February after the final funding campaign is complete.
Daily News of Open Water Swimming: Will you follow basic English Channel rules? No neoprene or will you use neoprene?
Michael Ventre: This is a stage swim and not a Channel swim, but I will be adhering to channel swimming rules as much as possible of just wearing toggs, cap, goggles, nose clip and lard. However, I will not allow a swim that costs hundreds of thousands of dollars to be halted by swarms of jellyfish or severe environmental conditions that can be mitigated by using a wetsuit.
Daily News of Open Water Swimming: What about shark protection? Will you use Shark Shields or other kinds of protection?
Michael Ventre: Yes, I will be using a Shark Shield.
Daily News of Open Water Swimming: What is your basic meal plan throughout the swim? Will you eat as you normally do or are you planning on some specific dietary strategy?
Michael Ventre: I will be on a high fat low carb diet. I believe fat adaptation is key for an event like this. I will use the odd gel or carb drink for a quick lift if required as I also have a sweet tooth. But I can happily swim for hours on fat and protein as my energy source.
Daily News of Open Water Swimming: What is your swim cap going to read? That is, what logos will you have on your swim cap?
Michael Ventre: There will be many swim caps. Some will have the New York to London Swim, Oxfam, Zoggs and Torq logos to name a few.
Daily News of Open Water Swimming: Jammers or briefs?
Michael Ventre: Briefs.
Daily News of Open Water Swimming: Where is your exact starting point?
Michael Ventre: Pier 25 on Manhattan.
Daily News of Open Water Swimming: Where do you plan or hope to come onshore?
Michael Ventre: Thames Barrier in Woolwich.
Daily News of Open Water Swimming: What are your worse-case emergency procedures? For example, will you be helicoptered to safety or will you wait for a big boat to get you or a crew member in case of serious injury or accident?
Michael Ventre: From the captain, “Most of the time we will be in areas on the ocean too far for Medivac by helicopter. For a medical emergency we will most likely need to get casualty onto passing ship and when in range can be Medivac’d to shore.“
Daily News of Open Water Swimming: How can people follow you (or your progress) on a daily basis?
Daily News of Open Water Swimming: Are you taking a leave of absence from your work/job/profession/company or just quitting and moving on in order to do this swim?
Michael Ventre: Still in discussions with my managers.
Daily News of Open Water Swimming: Is this the most audacious or adventurous charity event ever attempted on behalf of Oxfam?
Michael Ventre: Great question and unfortunately I don’t have the answer.
He is seeking funding to help him start this attempt in the form of brand sponsorship, crowdfunding and donations. His final week-long crowdfunding campaign will commence on January 30th and finish on February 3rd.
To make a direct donation via PayPal then please go to www.newyorktolondonswim.com
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