Tag Archives | Abhejali

Abhejali – our next team member to “conquer” the Strait of Gibraltar!

Abhejali-Tarifa

Joining Continents

“Swimming to Africa”, i.e. swimming the Strait of Gibraltar from the southernmost tip of Europe (Tarifa, Spain) to Africa (Morocco) – 15-20 km – is not comparable to an English Channel swim, but bridging two continents has a special magic to it. And there are similar challenges: unpredictable weather, days of waiting, currents, fog, huge container ships in the shipping lanes – but nicer marine life. The success rate is higher since the swim is shorter and easier – but you never know exactly what the currents and wind will do on your day, or if you get to swim at all.  (→ See the post about my own Gibraltar Straits swim Oct. 2012)

Video

On Monday, Sept. 16th, 2013, Abhejali Bernadova from Zlin, Czech Republic, fastest swimmer in our international English Channel relay 2009, English Channel solo swimmer 2011 and Manhattan Island Finisher 2012, became the 2nd Sri Chinmoy Marathon Team member to conquer the Strait of Gibraltar – in a very good 4 hours 35 minutes. Which made her the 3rd Czech Strait woman to do so – and the fastest of them! Conditions were less than ideal, windforce 3-4 most of the way – the AGNEC certificate says windforce 4 – and on the video the waves and whitecaps of the first hours are quite impressive compared to my own swim in 2012. Luckily everyone had taken seasickness pills – so seasickness only became a problem when they went dolphin watching (again) a few days later. Sunday, when a leftover team from the week before got to swim, was still sunny and calm (the photo at the top was taken on Sunday), but on Monday, on swim day, even though only windforce 2 was predicted, the Straits showed a different face.

Not easy, but very beautiful

Abhejali was still very lucky:
1. She got to swim at all (it is not rare for swimmers to come and not get a shot at all due to the weather).
2. She had an early morning start at 8 a.m, and the current – although unfavourable at the start – was not very strong near Africa. On the way back the pilot measured the current 5 km off Tarifa – and it had become basically unswimmable!
3. Abhejali had great company: not only her helpers and of course the boat pilots, but lots of dolphins! On one video she keeps swimming without looking up for quite a while – because she was looking at the dolphins swimming only a few meters below her. When a huge container boat passed, dolphins were surfing on its big bow waves! Her helpers saw them everywhere. “I had wanted to swim with dolphins,” she said, “and it worked!”

Map-Abhejali

On the website of ACNEC there is a link where you can follow the tracker of the pilot boats, Columba Uno or Columba Dos

In the first hour she only swam 2 km due to the strong currents (almost full moon), but after 2 hours she was told in 20 min. she would be half way – so she was able to pick up speed. One shoulder soon started to hurt from swimming in the waves – which she had not been able to practice in training – and pain killers did not help very much.

Finish Abhejali Gibraltar Straits“It was not easy, but it was very beautiful,” Abhejali said after her swim.

What will be next?, I asked her. Catalina, Cook Straits – or any other of the 7 Oceans swims? Maybe later, she says. She would love to swim from Europe to Asia (the Bosporus – an even shorter swim). “But now I’d also love to go back to running a little”, she says – a 24 hour and 100 km champion in her country, and lover and long time co-organizer of the World Harmony/Peace Run.

→ Videos of Abhejali swimming the Strait of Gibraltar, Sept. 16, 2013

→ more Photos

Link to ACNEG – the organisation for Strait of Gibraltar swims (swim list is not up to date on the website!)

→ Abhejali and myself at the IMSHOF ceremony in Long Beach, California, September 2012

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Global Open Water Conference – Honouring Sri Chinmoy

Sri-Chinmoy-To-Be-Inducted-In-The-Hall-Of-Fame

Honourees IMSHOF 2012

It was a nice adventure and a great honour to be invited to the Global Open Water Swimming Conference Sept. 21st/22nd 2012 on the Queen Mary, in Long Beach, California, to accept the IMSHOF award for Sri Chinmoy, who was beingSri Chinmoy honoured posthumously for his decades of inspiration and mentorship in the with Big River Man Martin Strel and AbhejaliOpen Water and Channel swimming world. I felt like a tiny fish among so many great fish (Diana Nyad, OW Greta Anderson, swimming legend, holding the World Harmony Run Torchlegend Greta Anderson, “Big River Man” Martin Strel (who was lifted by Sri Chinmoy in 2004), Penny Lee Dean, Marcos Diaz (U.N. Goodwill and Ocean Ambassador), Marcy MacDonald, Elisabeth Fry, Torch Bearer Award for Steven MunatonesDr. Jane Katz (who has trained some of our team`s Channel swimmers in N.Y.), Michael Read (King of the Channel 1997-2005), Ned Denison, Peace Swimmer Nejib Diana Nyad - Cuba to FloridaBelhedi and many others) – and it was extremely inspiring to meet with and listen to so many open water greats – and to speak to them about Sri Chinmoy and the Sri Chinmoy Marathon Team – and introduce the new book “Sport and Meditation”.

Many guests and speakers enjoyed holding theNehjib Belhedi - Swim for Peace Across Tunesia World Harmony Torch and making a wish for peace, and the Torch was finally invited also into the group photo with all the IMSHOF honourees.

Steven Munatones, main organiser of the Conference (with co-organiser Lexie Kelly on the left and Shelley Taylor-Smith on the right), was awarded the Torch Bearer Award of the World Harmony Run for his tireless efforts in promoting the spirit of self-transcendence and international friendship, inspiring and joining so many people across the world in their various quests in the open water world.

The 3rd day of the conference was marked by the “Swim Across America” iSwim Across American the Marine Stadium of Long Beach with races of various distances – and around 350 participants. Training for Gibraltar, I chose the 10 k olympic distance and was quite happy to finish in 3 h 25 - more than a minute before Mike Read, King of the English Channel from 1997-2005 with 33 crossings. Abhejali did 1.5 k in 27 min 26.

We were three from our Sri Chinmoy our team at the conferenceMarathon Team: myself (EC 1985 and 2010, Zurich lakes etc.), Abhejali Bernadova from Czech Republic (English Channel 2011, Manhattan Island Marathon Swim 2012, Zurich lake etc.), Bigalita Egger, L.A. (ultrarunner, several 10 day races in New York at age 70+) and Ahelee (EC solo 2001), a good friend, and we had a great time during, before and after the conference! Thank you everyone for your support – and the IMSHOF for their amazing efforts!
Dr Jane Katz Ned DenisonMarcos Diaz

Individual Self-Transcendence

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Victory for Abhejali!

Abhejali's finish around 22:05 our time

Abhejali’s finish around 22:05 European Mean Time near Cap Blanc Nez

Abhejali made it – in 14h 37 (or 38) mins! Ironically maybe even thanks to being seasick in the beginning! Out of the 14 boats that went out with relays and solos, only 5 made it I heart – some were  swept parallel to the coast at the end for hours before giving up, others turned round even earlier! Short feeding stops (in the second half), consistent swim speed and a good pilot (here Chris Osmond on Seafarer 11) and crew always have to work together. In a way it may even have helped Abhejali that she was pushed a bit further northeast in the beginning, probably due to her sick stomach and more frequent or longer stops, plus they started earlier – so she stayed further East of Cap Griz Nez and did

Parallel

Sea Satin and Suva are being swept off parallel to the coast – Anastasia and Pathfinder are doing well, too

not get into the stronger currents off the Cap when the tide turned again, plus she was a little closer to shore in calmer waters near Cap Blanc Nez when the others started being pushed parallel – at least that is what appeared to happen on the trackers. More of the story tomorrow.

That happens when you cannot cut through the tidal currents and run out of steam

One of the swims that sadly did not make it today (with Suva)

Here some more snapshots from the net.

Left: That happens when you cannot cut through the tidal currents, and maybe are even pushed by some wind from Southwest,  and don’t have enough left mentally and/or physically to keep swimming till the tide changes again. (The record is 27 hours – so no need to give up here unless you are hypothermic, cramped, running out of maxim/water/gas or you have to catch your plane or be back at work the next day.)

Here one of today’s  dramas (see above) on twitter with interesting fotos – one of the many charity swims, and donations are always welcome.

Victory and defeat are interwoven.
Do not try to separate them,
But try to go beyond them
If your heart longs for abiding peace.
– Sri Chinmoy

Love the battlefield of life,
For joy is always breathing
Secretly and openly
In both your victory and your defeat.

- Sri Chinmoy

Happy - Abhejali and her helper team on the way back to Dover

Happy – Abhejali and her helper team on the way back to Dover

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Abhejhali is more than halfway – after being seasick for hours!

More than half way - geografically

Past the Separation Zone -more than half way - geografically at 15:47 MET

Only briefly: Almost from the beginning of her swim Abhejali became seasick and could not hold anything in her stomach (the swells can be hard on your stomach even if the sea is almost flat). “What shall we do?” the helpers texted desperately. Nothing seemed to work. I texted back that Karteek (10x EC) had been seasick many times, even feeding the fish for up to 6 hours into the swim, and still made it most of the times. Vijaya always got seasick and finally made it. Abhejali fought through it and after 5 hours or so into the swim it got better.

It`s really busy today - 13 boats with swimmers out in the ChannelIt`s really busy today – 13 boats with swimmers out in the Channel

They have left the Separation Zone, meaning they are more than halfway – geografically!

You never know how much longer the end will be… The sea is choppy now (text message) with constant SW winds.

13 piloting boats  are out today, trying to guide their swimmes safely between tankers, ferries, pleasure crafts etc. to French shores.

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Abhejali is swimming!

Seafarer 11 off with Abhejali from Shakespeare Beach

Seafarer 11 off with Abhejali from Shakespeare Beach

Exactly at 6:22 Dover time (7:22 MET) on Monday,  July 11th, Abhejali started her swim with Chris Osmond on Seafarer 11 – along with quite a number of other swimmers.

Tracker 4 for Seafarer 11 on ais-doverstraits.co.uk

Tracker 4 for Seafarer 11 on ais-doverstraits.co.uk

She has tracker no 4 on http://www.ais-doverstraits.co.uk/ (if it works…)

The boats in the Channel can also be followed via: http://www.shipais.com/showship.php?map=dover&mmsi=235018589

Conditions are looking very good – many boats with swimmers are out. Fingers crossed!

Photo by Nick Adams on Suva

Awesome swimming conditons - Photo by Nick Adams on Suva via twitter

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12 hour indoor swim Zürich

Sorry for being so much behind.

I am definitely booked with Eddie for the tide August 30th to Sept. 6th or so, paid my first deposit for staying at Varne Ridge – and am getting back into more serious swimming again after my 12 hour swim in Zürich (indoors!) on Febr. 28th.

12 hour swim Zurich

12 hour swim Zurich

Zurich was a very nice experience again. Because of overbooking, some swimmers graciously swam already on Saturday – in a narrow crowded lane with breaststrokers, which luckily was widened after my Channel sister Vedika (5x EC including one Channel triathlon Dover-Paris) was about to quit if conditions were not changed.

A well-earned massage for Vedika

A well-earned massage for Vedika

Sunday was crowded again, but I was lucky to be in the wider 1st lane. I went with no expectations, except to swim at least 25 km in honour of the 25th Channel anniversary of our Sri Chinmoy Marathon Team, and I was very happy when I ended up with 27,2 km with some sprinting in the end – the same distance I had done in 2008, quite lighter then and 2 years younger.

Although I had swum 5 days a week for a couple of weeks previously, I had only done 2 x one hour or more – otherwise only 30-40 minutes in the much too warm indoor water.

The Czech Team

The Czech Team: Jayalata, Blanka, Miloslava, Abhejali (they did 32,8 km)

Nice surprise was to meet some good friends: Vedika on Saturday, on Sunday Prafulla (EC 1987, EC relay 1989), the initiator of the  Zürich lake marathon swim (after she failed in her first attempt to swim the English Channel in 1986 she did a double of the Zurich lake which inspired her to organise the Zurich lake marathon swim from Rapperswil). Also Abhejali and Jayalata, relay swimmer and helper from our English Channel relay swim last year, they had travelled all the way from Zlin (13 hours!) with two friends to swim a relay again. Which made me feel a little like out there in the Channel with friends, heading towards France again.

mit Margit Bohnhoff

mit Marghit Bohnhoff (center)

Margit Bonhoff from Berlin, successful EC in 2007 (11 h 40),who I had met in Dover 2 years ago, also participated, but was put off by the crowded lanes. Still she managed to place first for us “seniorladies” and looked quite happy at the end.

I used to take a P-break after an hour or so, soon combining it with a cold shower (felt like sweating in the water). After 6 hours I got some lunch and  my massage break – the main reason for coming :) , and the final downhill part was amazingly easy, with sprints towards the end to get in as many km as still possible – with basically everyone picking up their speed again.

Feeding was simple: lots of apple juice with maltodextrin, cold herb tea with a bit of fruit sugar and vit. C powder, some bananas,  a few raisins, porridge, salty veggie broth, a few potatoes with tamari and lots of fruit sugar towards the end. And some Chi (an alkalising combucha drink – Vedika´s staple).

More photos and results

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