Courtesy of WOWSA, river Labe, Czech Republic.

The 25 km Gaston Memorial Swim is held in the river Labe in the Czech Republic every August.

Gaston was a seal who escaped from the Prague Zoo during the floods of 2002 and swam to Germany.

Jack Bright describes the marathon swim, “It is a 25 km downstream river swim from Ústí nad Labem to Děčín where the times are usually similar to a 10 km swim in still water in a lake. The very fast current makes it an adventure with the winner in around 3 hours for 25 km.

The organizer is Tomaš Česnek.”

Kate Steels-Fryatt swam in the 2017 event that was won by Renča Ený Nováková, “It was fantastic – I have never swum in such a fast river.

Part of the tactics was to sight well to avoid navigation buoys and seek out the fastest current in the river which was not always obvious. I got it wrong in lots of places, especially in the early parts of the race. I literally flew down the river averaging over 7 km per hour.”

The awards for the finishers are cute medals in commemoration of Gaston who is the namesake for one of the World’s Top 100 River Swims.

Other open water swimming unique awards include the following:

* Belt buckles at the SCAR Swim Challenge in Arizona, USA: see here
* Conch tropies at the Race For The Conch Eco-SeaSwim in Turks & Caicos: see here
* Walking sticks and woodals at the Kingdom Swim in Vermont: see here
* Paper crown for Ice Kilometers swimmers at the International Ice Swimmiing Association Ireland National Championships: see here
* For Triple Crowners (English Channel + Catalina Channel + Around Manhattan Island): see here
* MSF Spork + MSF Navigator Award from the Marathon Swimmers Federation: see here
* Cherrywood plaque for South End Rowing Club members for their North Channel crossing: see here
* For H20PLAY Swim Series winners: see here
* For 2-way North Channel relay from Northern Ireland to Scotland and back to Northern Ireland: see here
* For Hawaiian Christmas Looong Distance Invitational Rough-H2O Swim finishers on Oahu: see here
* For finishers of the Nevis to St. Kitts Cross-Channel Swim: see here
* English Channel award for Shubham Vanmali: see here
* Unique fish awards at the Los Cabos Open Water Challenge: see here.
* Rhinoceros trophy for the 8 Mile Charity Club at the Midmar Mile: see here.
* North Channel crossing by the Irish Long Distance Swimming Association: see here.

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