We believe the Bering Strait Swim is one of the most dangerous and inherently risky open water swimming adventures of all time. Like Arctic adventurers of yore, the men and women of the Bering Strait Swim are entering into inherently risky waters doing something uniquely unprecedented.
Ryan Stramrood of South Africa reports on his Facebook page a first-hand account of what the team is experiencing:
“Four and a half days at sea has felt like years. Confined mostly to limited quarters with very little to do, absolutely zero connectivity, unhealthy food, no exercise and strict Russian naval rules, has found the SA team on the wrong side of favour a few times. In particular, the ‘no alcohol’ rule has been the toughest to stomach and last night, as we shared a beer, the captain appeared in our cab…in from 4 levels up with a final threat. And it is quite an experience being heavily shat on from these guys – one can’t miss the message easily.
We have now been travelling for 8 solid days and we’re not there yet! A HUGE difference in ‘living’ with our Russian friends and those from 14 other countries in confines, compared to the last two whirlwind Russian and Siberian adventures. Think ‘big brother’! We will write a book just on experiences on the ship alone, with the first chapter revealing how Toks was jumped in the shower while his eyes were closed and hair full of soap. No jokes, you have to watch your back. But there is a good team on board and its been mostly plain sailing, albeit very frustrating. A guitar emerged of course, so some South Africa, Russian, Chinese, etc jamming has been happening.
The big news is that the solo swim between the Diomedes Islands has been scrapped. Very disappointing, but we agree with the decision as the logistics and dangers are simply too incredible to describe. The relay was always the priority. And to our further dismay, there is a chance that the swim will take up to 4 days itself (we budgeted for 2 days).
This morning we arrive in ‘Providinia”. We need to sit out some nasty weather in port (wind at 70 meters per second apparently). Long gone are the t-shirts and slops. We are now solidly in Arctic conditions albeit mid summer and some realities are setting in. The water temp on the Russian side is reported at 1 C with possible patches of -2C as the unseasonal North East wind has brought in cold glacial water. That’s serious shit right there and we predict a fair fall out. Today we will get in the water to practice some entry, switch, exit and medical procedures. After 4 days in a tiny cabin, we can’t wait.
Full medicals were conducted. The first report came back with a shock that up to 50% of the team are under threat of med cancellation, with 15 people being serious. Largely attributed to conditions while at sea and ‘lifestyle’ issues!
Ok so that’s where we are. Its getting very real now. Even though it is relay format, we still know only the hardcore will make this work.
Please note that it likely we will again be without any connectivity for days at a time. We will post as much as possible [here at Facebook].”
Copyright © 2013 by Open Water Swimming