About vasanti

Vasanti Niemz, born 1956, living in Heidelberg, working in webdesign and internet-marketing and teaching kids yoga part time. Vegetarian since 1981 and amateur ultra-distance/endurance athlete.
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Back in Heidelberg

Update Wed., Sept 23: It’s over for this year, but booked again for 2018!

Last Sunday afternoon I went for a very nice 3 hour swim in lake Waidsee near Weinheim, assuming the water would be 17°C. It did not feel too cold, the sun came out, it was beautiful, swimming felt powerful and I could even work on my style, seeing too many air bubbles around my right arm stroke in the clean water. However, the water turned out to be 19,3 °C the DLRG told me – so much for cold training back home! Since the weather remains extremely unsettled for Dover – only Fri/Sat. looks swimmable right now – and air temps in the Channel are going down to 8°C at night with very chilly mornings and evenings, and water below 17°C, I decided to finally called it a year and feel happy with that. Eddie booked me in again for Aug. 3-8, 2018 (2017 is already full). This time, the idea will be to finally achieve my long-time project, Dover-Heidelberg – at age 61!

Interestingly, Sunday 20th was also the first real swim day in the Channel again since I left Dover – with 11 boats out. And only Friday/Sat. 25/26th might be the next possible days until Oct. So many swimmers still waiting! I hope Karteek will get a chance to swim!

Update Wed, Sept. 16:

Back home in rainy Heidelberg since Monday morning. Sunday 13th – which had looked good for the first springtide swimmers – had only 2 swims, as the weather forecast was for windforce 6 in the afternoon and storms for the next week. And only one of them made it. Eddie, my pilot, also decided not to go out, and the Irish relay team we met at Varne Ridge must have been so disappointed, like everyone else waiting. Some swimmers had already gotten ready to start their swim early in the morning when it was cancelled last minute. From the ferry at 11 p.m., however, the water looked so calm all the way – it was hard to believe that Monday 7th had been the only real swim day for the whole time I was in Dover.

I had gotten in two very good training swims on Saturday and Sunday just before I boarded the Euroline bus back to Heidelberg. 5 hours in very wavy but sunny conditions, with an absolute washing machine near the “wall” at the Eastern Docks on Saturday, and 6 hours on Sunday in calm but colder conditions (air 14 to 15°C, water around 17°C), with rain showers, which always gives me extra joy and an extra peaceful feeling when swimming. It is interesting how you get “into” the swimming on a deeper level only after a couple of hours – so all these longer training swims are just a small taste of the “big one”.

It was great to swim along with other swimmers for company, some of them – like Cliff Golding – had been waiting since July for a weather window! The beach crew, with Emma, Freda, Pat etc. are so amazing, they held out for us last two 6 hour swimmers in the rain and cold – thank you so much for all the support!

I felt so ready to go – but it was not to be. Who knows what it is good for.  Next weekend looks like very calm weather, the high pressure zone is coming up big, so at least these swimmers will get a chance (and the pilots have an income!). But I am not convinced anymore I will go back for the next tide – time and money just add up. However, I am totally inspired now to continue training seriously for Dover-Heidelberg in 2017 – when I will be 60. That would be real self-transcendence again.

Are most remarkable.

― Sri Chinmoy

“It is good to have an end to journey toward; but it is the journey that matters, in the end.”

Ernest Hemingway

Thank you everyone for your support, inner and outer, for your prayers, messages, concern and oneness! It felt amazing and I am sure it was a very good thing we were back in Dover as a team! 

Here a few philosophical, illumining and inspiring poems by my teacher re success and progress (with a link to the original) – it is too hard to chose only one or two:

Quite often
Our outer success hinders
Our inner progress.

― Sri Chinmoy

A life of success
Comes and goes.
A heart of progress
Grows and glows.

Sri Chinmoy

Success is a mind-game
That has a very short breath.
Progress is a heart-song
That never ends.

― Sri Chinmoy

Is what we always
Is what we always

― Sri Chinmoy

Outer success
Can easily stand in the way of
Our inner progress.

― Sri Chinmoy

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Too windy – maybe a last chance on the next neap tides?

Update Wed. Sept.9th – our Channel anniversary:

No swims today and maybe even the next and last days of the tide. Swimming in the harbour this morning was great – finally some waves and a real Channel feeling! The sun is out and the water glittering and warmer again. If Friday is also no swim, then I will get two long training swims in on the weekend and go back Sunday night. And see if there is still a chance to try on the last tide of September – when Karteek will also be down here.

Update Sept 10th:

smileysWhite horses in the harbour and out in the Channel (waves with white caps, windforce 4 or more), sun is out, a bit misty. Great for training in the harbour with a real Channel feeling.

Met my boat pilot Eddie on the boat in the marina – Sunday looks like a short swimmable window, but he has a relay booked for this first spring tide spot. Before and after: “crap”. But a high pressure zone is lurking in the southwest, hopefully making its way up for the next neap tide. So my helpers are going back today and Friday, myself Sunday night, after a few more training swims.

Celebrating our 30 years anniversary

smileys2smileys3Yesterday Sananda and Sumeru gave me a nice surprise with 30 smiley balloons they had brought from home and a cake with 30 candles to celebrate our Sri Chinmoy Marathon Team`s 30th English Channel Swimming anniversary. As all of them, including Sarita, had been helpers or swimmers in the EC before, so it was a nice team celebration. And we were thinking of all our many team swimmers and helpers around the world who have been involved during these 30 years, challenging their own inner and outer capacities!

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Praying for Wednesday


Saturday: The team is complete and in good spirits (Sumeru, Sananda, Sarita, Vasanti). Then it got cold.

Change is normal at the English Channel. The last few days, and even more so the nights in Dover and Calais have been cold to icy and the water near the French coast – where it usually gets warmer – is very cold, an Indian swimmwer told us.

No swim for us on Monday, hoping for Wednesday morning, but ready even for Tuesday – or Thursday :). The high pressure Zone is here, with cold winds from the North, and it is calm in the Harbour, but beyond the separation zone the waves are still 5 foot high from the storm over the North sea. So more cold water training in the harbour, eating and resting – and crossing fingers. My three helpers are here (Sarita from Canada, Sumeru and Sananda from Austria) and we are swopping interesting stories about the early years of our team`s Channel Swimming (Sarita was pulled out after 14 hours in the Channel in 1988 for no good reason by the boat pilot, Sananda was Gyde`s helper who finished in windforce 7 with tremendous energy and determination in 1987). And also mountineering stories from Kilimandscharo, Nepal etc. A great team, lots of Inspiration, enthusiasm and fun.

Pls. help us pray for good conditions on Wednesday! This would actually be exactly the day of my swim of 1985. (Sept. 3-6 is my Dover-Aachen anniversary and Sept. 7-8 is Vijaya`s Channel anniversary)


A friendly Invasion of France. Interestingly, Sept.7th had been the day I had concentrated on – but it was not my day, too cold. And Eddie had another swimmer who had trained in cold Ireland waters and was ready for it.

Update Sept.7th: Today 12 boats are out including Eddie/Anastasia. Tomorrow may be too windy. But we are still planned for Wednesday – very good! Eddie videoed dolphins today out there.

If you look at https://twitter.com/AnastasiaSwim you will see who is swimming with Eddie and get more details. We still have to figure out who will be texting and receiving texts on the boat.

And here again the tracker. http://cspf.co.uk/tracking

Thanks for all your Support!

btw: Internet access is difficult at our Caravan park – I mostly go to a hotel down at the marina to use my notebook.

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Monday might be our swim day

Today 5 pilot boats with swimers are out in the Channel – but it is a 7.20 m spring tide (http://cspf.co.uk/tracking). The next days will be windier again, but Monday is looking good.

Pressure chart sunday

Met Office Surface pressure chart for Sunday – if the high continues to move east


XC weather for Monday 7th

XC Weather Chart for Monday. Blue means no to light winds (windforce 0-3) , basically swimmable, green is wf 4, doable for some time, but boats do not go out on a “green” day.

But then again – with the Channel you never know! Fingers crossed!


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Off to Dover – acclimating and meeting Channel heroes

Vasanti and Jackie Cobell, record for longest Channel swim - Redkord für den längsten Ärmelkanalschwimm

with Jackie Cobell, one of the Channel heroes for the longest English Channel swim: it took her 28 hours 44 min. to reach France in 2010 – but she would not give up!

Arrived in Dover via Euroline bus and ferry from Dunkerque (instead of Calais, passing the fenced off refugee/migrant camps, very sad situation and constantly wondering how can we help) for a few days of acclimatizing before my tide Sept. 5 – 11. Just in time for a nice Sat. morning training swim of 4 hours and again 3,5 hours on Sunday (due to Dover Regatta we were not allowed to stay in the water longer.)

Met Channel swimmers, aspirants and all kinds of heroes on the beach as usual, including legendary Jackie Cobell, who holds the record for the longest / slowest Channel swim ever, testimony to incredible stamina, determination and endurance!

Sananda, my helper from Vienna, is only arriving on the 5th, hopefully there will be a more stable weather period for a change, the last neap tides (Aug 21-27) were basically wiped out again. My second helper just dropped out for family reasons – but then I got a phone call from Canada, an old Channel swimming admirer will use her air  miles to come over and help short notice, arriving Friday! Thanks, Sarita for your enthusiasm!

Freda Streeter - Dover Harbour Traininging (Ärmelkanalschwimm-Training)

with another Channel legend, Channel “General” and coach Freda Streeter (mother of Allison Streeter, Queen of the English Channel), who told me this may be her last year “full time” at the beach

My boat is Anastasia English Channel boat again with great pilot Eddie Spelling and his crew.

You can follow the tracker (once you know we are swimming) here: http://cspf.co.uk/tracking. Just click the box behind “Anastasia” – the orange boat symbol. Eddie usually updates his twitter account (it is open, you do not need to sign in): https://twitter.com/anastasiaswim

And here are some links to the weather forcasts and tides:


Update Aug. 31
Metoffice pressure chart shows a high pressure Zone slowly moving towards the Dover Strait. If it continues to move east there is a chance for some more stable calm weather (that is the zone between too bars/lines staying over the Channel for some time). Right now the forecast for 5th to 9th is too windy. This is what Sept. 3rd looks like today:

Pressure chart sept 3

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Congratulations to our team`s 1st Triple Crowner!

Abhejali swimming Catalina Channel

On August 18, 2015, after 9 hours 46 min. of swimming from Catalina Island to California mainland mostly through the night, Abhejali Bernadova (age 39) from Zlin became the first member of our international Sri Chinmoy Marathon Team and the first Czech person overall to achieve the “Triple Crown of Open Water Swimming”, having swum Catalina Channel (2015), English Channel (2011) and Manhattan Island (2012). Having  crossed the Strait of Gibraltar in 2013, she also has 3 of the “Oceans Seven” swims in her pocket now. (Oceans Seven Wikipedia)

A shark protection device was attached to the escort boat


Dolphins ahead! Harita (EC relay swimmer) multi-tasking as boat butler and kajaker.

The swim was very nice, she said, with calm waters, lots of bioluminescence and even dolphins (and no shark encounters). More details to follow soon.

It may be interesting to note that Abhejali – like many of our team members – has been a vegetarian for over 20 years now and feels that her regular meditation practice not only helps in her training by increasing focus and aiding regeneration, but also keeps the “monkey mind” at bay during the swim, allowing her to experience the peace and beauty of open water swimming even more.

Finishing with the Czech flag

When she is not swimming or training for a long swim, you can see her running with the Peace Torch in various parts of the world or doing triathlons or multiday races like the 10 day race in New York.


Abhejali Bernadova


Carrying the Peace Torch in Australia 2013

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Dover Training July 2015

Dover sunrise when I arrived on the Euroline bus via ferry

Dover sunrise when I arrived on the Euroline bus via ferry

With the heat wave on the continent it was great to be in Dover for five days (11-15th) for some cold water training in the harbour – although I know from experience that within a few weeks part of the acclimatization will wear off again in the heat back home. So it will be good to come back quite a few days before my tide starts on Sept. 5th. But still it was reassuring to be able to swim 4, 6, 1.5, 3 and 2.5 hours in 16°C waters without problems, coming from 22-28°C


Glorious morning

waters and just regular cold showers. It was the last opportunity for the 6 hour qualifying swim, a week later the water in Dover would already be above 16°C. (Zurich Lake obviously does not count any more as a qualifier, since it is too warm.)

Jana (helper), Abhejali and Vasanti, after our first swims on Saturday - 7 hrs Abhejali, 4 hrs myself

Jana (helper), Abhejali and Vasanti, after our first swims on Saturday – 7 hrs Abhejali, 4 hrs myself

From the ferry in the morning dawn both shores with their blinking lights looked so close – just like a little bit more than the Zurich lake. It felt quite reassuring. But of course I know the currents, the cold and the fickle weather can be real challenges.


Sunny Sunday: Freda had a finger operation – she is sporting the nice hat Bahula gaver her after the girls relay in 2014

Abhejali had come a day earlier to prepare for her Catalina Channel swim booked for August 18th, and was happy to meet up with her sister in Dover, who lives in London and came down to assist us.

"King Kevin", Hon. Sec. of the CS&PF, helping out at the beach on Sunday

Kevin Murphy (34 Channel crossings), Hon. Sec. of the CS&PF, helping out at the beach on Sunday

It was very nice to meet again and chat with inspiring Channel swimmers from around the world – like Chloe McCardel and Shelley
Taylor-Smith – and the amazing beach crew inlcuding Freda, Irene, Barry and “King Kevin” himself, who sweetly came down to bring me my


At Varne Ridge, with Shelley Taylor-Smith and David, sharing interesting stories

crocks when I was the last swimmer to get out of the water after 6 hours on Sunday.


Meeting Chloe after her 3 solos in one week in preparation of her 3-way-attempt early August

Chloe McCardel was still in Dover after her she did her 3 solos in one week to prepare for her 3-way attempt beginning of August. We had met her and husband Paul first time back in 2009, when we were doing our 2nd Sri Chinmoy Marathon Team English Channel relay. Best of luck, Chloe!

Update: And she actually did her TRIPLE-SOLO on Aug 8-9th, 2015, in 36 hours 12 minutes: http://dailynews.openwaterswimming.com/2015/08/chloe-mccardel-becomes-4-to-go-3.html HUGE CONGRATULATIONS!

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Swimming in Antarctica – for MPAs and Peace

Lewis Pugh, “human polar bear” and U.N. Patron of the Oceans, is giving a BBC interview about his recent quite terrifying swims in Antarctica in minus degree waters chased by sea lions, and about his goal to raise international awareness and encourage the creation of Marine Protected Areas (MPA) in and around the Ross Sea. He is also asking:

“As we seem to be sleepwalking into another cold war, can we use the (protection of the) waters around Antarctica and the Ross Sea as a bridge for building peace elsewhere in the world?”

lewis-pugh-antarktis_620x349During his Antarctic expedition in February/March he set a new record for the most southerly swim in history, near Cape Adare in -1.7°C waters (where salty sea water starts to freeze) and -37°C air temperature, wearing nothing than a speedo, swim cap and goggles.

Read more about his “speedo diplomacy” visiting the Kremlin, his vision of ocean conservation as a positive influence on international relations and details about his Antarctica campaign and other expeditions on → his blog and on lewispugh.com/lewis-pugh-sets-sights-on-russia/
(Fotos: Kelvin Trautman)

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Dover March 7th/8th – CS&PF Channel Dinner and Sunday Dip

After the Channel Dinner in Dover on March 7th, crowds of swimmers enjoyed the Sunday morning sun and, braving chilly air and water temps, invaded the sparkling Channel waters in the harbour – lead by CS&PF President Nick Adams and King of the Channel and CS&PF Hon. Secretary Kevin Murphy.

crowds Kevin1entering-the-water

sparkling Kevin-MurphyVasanti-dover-2015


Mayorbirthdayned-cliffEven the Mayor, Cllr Pamela Brivio and her husband watched and took photos. They were quite amazed at the wide smiles and glowing faces of the swimmers coming out of the freezing element, and the general joyful atmosphere of this quite international family gathering.

Enjoy some more of my pics on the CS&PF-Website: http://cspf.co.uk/article/92/swimmers-take-to-the-sea-to-clear-their-heads

I went to the CS&PF Dinner to represent our international Sri Chinmoy Marathon Team and our 3 swims in 2014: two EC solos by Scottish Karteek Clarke (solo no 11) and Dover-Heidelberg English Channel-triathlete Angikar Djordjevik from Serbia (who was supposed to come but forgot to extend his visa!), plus the New Zealand-Czech “Sri Chinmoy Golden Jubilee” girls relay, who were all part of the annual honourees. Lucky Peter Hücker won the coveted guaranteed entry to the Zurich Lake Marathon Swim in 2016 in the raffle – congratulations!  On Monday we met with the Mayor again, together with two British and Welsh friends to discuss to an upcoming peace project.

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New Year’s Greetings from Croatia

Sea-peace-600As a child I loved swimming and snorkling in the Adriatic sea in Croatia when we used to go there on holidays with my grandparents. After so many years, it was a very nice experience to spend the New Year’s holidays of 2014/15 on the spectacular Croation coast together with Peace-Run-Dobrovnikour team, including friends and a number of English Channel girls and boys from literally all over the world – New Zealand, Australia, USA, Canada, Brazil, Guatemala, Europe… Meditation, swimming (outside temps down to below freezing for a few days,  water around 14°C), running along the scenic coast, Ston-Walls-Iceland-New-Zealand-GermanyPeace Run activities in Dubrovnik (UNESCO world heritage) and at the Ston Walls as part of local races, a Song of the Souls concert and lots of fun activities like a swim-run, a treasure hunt and some sightseeing made this holiday quite memorable. Apart from a few rainy and quite stormy days we were blessed with lots of sunshine and calm seas. (We were actually unable to land in windy Dubrovnik even after couple of attempts by the pilot – left and right of me people were using their sickness bags, but I felt fine and protected, surprisingly, with a handful of other teammembers on board. So we had to be diverted to Split, which resulted in a special 3 hour bus trip around midnight down along the moonlit coast to our hotel in Orasac.)

The run-swim (it was too cold to start with the swim and run in wet clothes) at the end of our stay was such great fun – people were even allowed to walk in the water just to get as many as possible to participate. The more adventurous and hardened swimmers chose the long course out to the other beach and back. For quite a few it was pure self-transcendence to get into the chilly water – but they ended up loving it!

Here a few more impressions:

Sunset-700wild-sea-700Abhejali-Vasanti-600Temp-600swim1-600      swimrun-600 Dyutimati-600seascape-600seascape2-600Sunset-red-700Orangen-600Songs-600

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