Unescorted, Unprecedented, Unafraid: Swims By Otto Kemmerich
Research and translation courtesy of Matthias Kaßner.
Kemmerich was considered among the best open water swimmers of the world, but he also had full-time work as a dressage rider for different circuses, and was a manager with a health insurance company while he accomplished various unprecedented feats.
Most of his swims (listed below) were done solo – without any assistance and without an escort boat or crew.
In his equipment bag that he dragged along with him, he always had a watch, a compass, and a seamap which he carried in a duffel bag. He marked his position in the water with a red flag.
*1924: he swam from Husum to Westerland in Germany
*1925: he swam the Fehmarn from Fehmarn to Denmark
*1926: he tried to swim the English Channel, but aborted due to an injured hand
*1927: he swam for 32 hours and set a new world record in endurance swimming
*1928: he swam 80 km in the Baltic Sea for 43 hours 15 minutes from Fehmarn Island to Warnemünde, Germany. During his nearly two-day adventure, he was feared dead because he was unescorted and truly swimming solo.
*1928: he swam a 46-hour endurance record when he completed several thousand laps of a 44-foot basin
*1929: he swam more than 100 km from Pillau to Zoppot (at that time both were located in Germany) along the coast unescorted without any assistance in 23 hours 15 minutes
*1929: he swam from Rottum to Borkum in a storm. On the next day, he tried to swim further from Borkum to Memmert also in a storm. Due to the storm, he drifted to Norddeich where he landed after 12 hours. He lost his duffel bag with all his equipment during this swim.
*1929: he swam in bad conditions 62 kilometer from Fehmarn (Lighthouse Staberhuk) to Warnemünde in 20 hours
*1930: he swam from Juist to Norderney
*1938: he swam from Borkum to Norddeich
*1952: at the age of 66 he tried to swim from Esbjerg, Denmark to Husum, Germany. He wanted to swim the distance of 200 km from island to island without a boat, but he died during the last stage from Sylt to Amrum. Nearly three weeks later on August 17th, his body was found.
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