This is it. It has been a long journey from South Africa to the Mt Tres Cruces in Argentina.
But the high-altitude swimmers Jean Craven, Milton Brest, Evan Feldman, Chris Marthinusen, Herman van der Westhuizen, Robert Graaff, and Juandre Human have trained and mentally prepared for this point.
They will attempt to complete a high-altitude swim at 5,909 meters tomorrow.
Their original Plan A to swim at 6,400 km (20,997 feet) above sea level did not pan out, but Plan B at 5,909 meters (19,386 feet) will still be the highest 1 km swim in history, beating Lewis Pugh’s 1 km swim of 5,300 meters on Mount Everest.
After facing a night of sleep in tents at -18ºC at night, the team hiked up to a lake on Mt Tres Cruces. “It was the hardest thing most members had ever embarked on,” described Madswimmer member Nicolene Steynberg.
“Climbing near vertical snow field for 1.1 km high took them over 6 hours. Their chainsaws [to cut open a lane to swim] didn’t work, so they used pickaxes to cut a hole through the 30 cm iced-covered lake. There is water underneath – so The Big Swim becomes a real possibility.
Yesterday was very hard, today they rest, and tomorrow at 4 am, they will take the journey back to lake to start to tackle that ice. There are still medical challenges, severe conditions, and one man down with pneumonia, but the mission continues.”
Copyright © 2015 by World Open Water Swimming Association