One of the most legendary open water swims of all time was Philip Rush’s three-way crossing of the English Channel on August 16th 1987.
Not only did the New Zealand Hall of Famer shatter the three-way record in 28 hours 21 minutes, he also completed the two-way crossing in blazing fast 16 hours 10 minutes (7 hours 55 minutes on the first leg + 8 hours 15 minutes on the second leg).
His crossings were completed without GPS or jammers (two distinct advantages of contemporary swimmers) and, remarkably, both records remain standing 31 years after his Beamonesque swim.
If anyone can beat Rush’s records, it will have to be a veteran channel swimmer who can swim as fast as professionals and swim in cold water for a long periods of time.
Rostislav Vítek of the Czech Republic has all the elements of a record breaker.
Vítek finished 17th at the 2008 Olympic Games 10 km marathon swim in 1 hour 52 minutes. So he is fast.
Vítek is also one of the fastest English Channel one-way swimmers in history with a crossing of 7 hours 16 minutes in 2009 with escort pilot Michael Oram. So he is a veteran.
Vítek set a world record for the Ice Mile in 4.83°C water in 20:29; won the Polish International Ice Swimming Championships 1 km Championships, and won the bronze medal in the Ice Kilometer at the 2017 Ice Swimming Aqua Sphere World Championships in Burghausen, Germany. So he can handle the cold.
Jack Bright reports, “In addition to being an Olympic marathon swimmer with numerous other marathon feats, Rostislav is going for a two-way English Channel crossing this year. He is booked with Reg Brickell, Jr.
He is taking this very seriously, training very hard and he has a campaign to raise awareness of climate and damage to our oceans.”
Vítek writes, “Global warming is an SOS issue to all of us in the world are facing right now. The decrease of glaciers and the increase of sea level are associated with global warming. As an open water and marathon swimmer, I want to do something for the next generation.
I hope to use this [two-way English Channel] challenge to draw the public’s attention to the issues related to our ocean. At least half of the raised fund will go to Friends Of The Earth which has projects to tackle climate changes with various approaches. The rest will be used to cover part of the expenses of the challenge.”
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Rostislav Vítek is shown above at the 2011 FINA World Championships in Shanghai, China.
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