Extreme swimmers Ram Barkai and Andrew Chin (shown on left) first whet their open water swimming appetite on the Orange River Challenge.  Characteristically, they did not simply dip their toes in the open water – then went full bore to the extreme.

Their goal: to swim down the Orange River with a team of swimmers and cover a distance of 535K in 10 days. 

Staring from Hope Town in the Northern Cape Province, the team started off on Day 1 in a fast 8K per hour current.  On the first day, they swam 89K in 13 hours. 

On Day 2, the swimmers entered the water at a rapid to start and then later slowed throughout the day to complete 59K.  The blistering heat and strong winds of Day 3 did not stop the team from completing 70K.  Day 4 was a 14-hour test of wills that resulted in a 75K swim.  Day 5 was relatively short – 11 hours where the team traversed 63K.

Day 6 saw the team slowed by oncoming 30-knot winds completed 35K in 8 hours as they rotated every 30 minutes.  On Day 7, s 60K day saw the swimmers navigating all kinds of rocks and trees in the narrow channels.  Day 8 proved a challenge with the 38°C (100°F) water temperature and thousands of biting insects. Day 9 resulted in a 43K swim in rocky venue while Day 10 was a 28K finale. 

It was a challenge that took on a life of its own as it went along.  Dealing with each other and Mother Nature, the group of adventurers enjoying pushing themselves beyond what they thought possible.

Copyright © 2011 by Open Water Source