The Unprecedented 50 km Crossing Of Lake Baikal
Five swimmers completed an unprecedented crossing of Lake Baikal, the deepest lake in the world.
It was the first bioprene relay to cross Lake Baikal, a 50 km effort completed in 16 hours 11 minutes.
Oleg Dokuchaev, the chief of the Olympic committee of Primorsky region of the Russian Federation and organizer of the Bering Strait Swim, was supported by the authorities of the Primorsky region and Irkutsk region and Russian Winter Swimming Association, to support the effort. The swimmers included Oleg Dokuchaev, Maria Chizhova, Pavel Komarov, Eugene Zozulya, and Andrey Bugay. “Oleg and Maria both swam the 86 km Bering Strait Swim from Cape Dezhnev in Russia, to Cape Prince of Wales in Alaska in 2013 while Oleg was the chief organizer,” recalled Nuala Moore who was also on the unprecedented relay dubbed The Most Dangerous Crossing In The World.
“They started in Vydrino, Buryatia on the August 4th at 2:25 pm. Ivan Dokuchaev, the 5-year-old son of Oleg and Maria swam 50 meters to start the swim. Then Maria began her first 30-minute leg followed by Komarov, Zozulya, Oleg, and Andrei Bugai in continuous 30-minute rotations.
The water temperature at the start was 14°C, but one hour later it was 12°C. The temperature of the lake continued to drop as the base of the lake is at 0°C the entire year. As the team crossed the world’s deepest lake, the 7th largest in the world, through the night, air temperatures dropped to 5°C and the winds increased, making the swim much colder and more challenging.
With 9 km to the finish, the water became colder. Over the final 2 km, the team had to swim in 5°C water, exchanging swimmers every 15 minutes.
Zozulya had the honor to finish at Listvyanka in the Irkutsk region on the August 5th at 6:36 am for a time of 16 hours 11 minutes.
Baikal is the deepest lake on earth with 20% of all drinking water of our planet, located in the southern part of the Eastern Siberia. Its water mass is more than the water mass of 5 Great Lakes taken together. The maximum depth is 1642 meters with incredibly clean and transparent water. Water temperature in the depths is about 0°C year round – that is why it was so cold at the finish point.”
Dokuchaev, who had three roles as an organizer, swimmer, and father, admitted after swimming towards the Angara River at the finish, “The back-to back-immersions in such cold water was so difficult.”
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