Looking Forward For Pablo Fernández Álvarez And Nuala Moore

Courtesy of WOWSA, Mount Everest, Nepal.

Like the postponed and cancelled open water swimming events from Tokyo to Florida due to the coronavirus pandemic, Pablo Fernández Álvarez and Nuala Moore [shown above] had to put their swimming goals temporarily on hold.

As Fernández says from Spain, “This global pandemic has huge implications and health is now #1 priority for all of us. We have obviously decided to cancel the 25-hour attempt until circumstances allow it – not sooner than June 2020.

We [still] plan to attempt to set a Guinness World Record in 2020, but it is too soon to provide a date today. We estimate that as Spain was one of the first countries to take bold quarantaine actions (we are actually in the 10th consecutive day with a reduction in the percentage of daily growth levels of new cases), we think by mid- to the end of May that quarentaine will finish and June and July will be a “transition months” of get back to normal. So in that context, June or July are the months in which we think we will attempt the world record.”

The two-time Guinness World Record holder (for the fastest solo current-assisted 100 km swim in 12 hours 21 minutes and for the fastest 5 km shackled ocean swim) had an interruption in his training for his 25-hour swim in an Endless Pool, but has remained positive and upbeat. “We will emerge stronger from this crisis and we will definitely value more the little pleasures like open water swimming.”

On the other side of the world, Moore was looking forward to travel to Mount Everest in April to trek to base camp over 2 weeks and then swim at a lake at 5000m similar to Lewis Pugh [in 2010 when he completed a 1 km high-altitude swim on Mount Everest in 22 minutes 51 seconds at 5,200m altitude]. “But this is now postponed.

My plan was to experience the full challenge of walking for the 2 weeks and challenge my body entirely. I needed a change and a new adventure so the hillwalking was really something I was enjoying. I live on fabulous mountains and it was tough winter of hill walking, but I loved it. The Ice Swim would have been exciting with the challenges of altitude and I had wanted to learn more so we can understand more about the altitude and ice swimming. November is going to be much colder. I prefer challenging new perimeters of adrenaline an adventure and education.

Altitude is a fascinating subject for me. My plans were to travel with the World Extreme Medicine – Mountain Medicine Nepal course which was allowing me to understand and learn more about our sports while we walked up to 5300m and how to apply the learning to the application. The fact that we, as swimmers can achieve things does not always indicate that we are safe. I love the learning as well as the challenge.”

Moore explained more about the reason why Mount Everest was closed this March. “The main reason for closing the mountain was due to the situation of altitude. Breathing is already a challenge at high altitudes, so an outbreak of the novel coronavirus, a severe respiratory disease, among the climbers would be particularly devastating. The risks of pulmonary and respiratory issues would be life-threatening. This was the decision to close the mountain in advance of the spread of the virus.

The decision by the World Extreme Medicine was to then put the course forward for November 2020 which I am delighted, but I am sure it will be much colder.”

Her plan to swim 1 km at 4000m on Mount Everest in November 2020 is as follows. “I hope to complete an Ice Kilometer in a glacial lake above 4000m on Mount Everest; it would be the third highest distance swim in the world, a colossal personal challenge for me.

Fergal Slattery and Moore will travel to Kathmandu, Nepal to join the experienced team and trek over 9 days to Base Camp. “The challenges will be managing altitude as we trek to over 5,300m. We will use the time to acclimatize, walking an average of 6 hours a day as we move up the mountain. The swim will involve a multi-hour trek to the glacial lake and attempt the swim at a time which works for the team. The trek in itself will be a colossal challenge for me.

Swimming in ice is limited by time, distance and temperature. Add in the challenge of altitude and remote location, this further adds to the cocktail of risks. I want to swim looking up at the summit of Mount Everest.

To take on any risky sport, it’s important to understand that you may fail and it may be a terrible experience. In failing, we may devastate ourselves and set ourselves back, or else we may release ourselves to a phenomenal journey. It’s forward or back.”

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