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. https://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.
Today 5 pilot boats with swimers are out in the Channel – but it is a 7.20 m spring tide (https://cspf.co.uk/tracking). The next days will be windier again, but Monday is looking good.
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!
All are safely back – after an amazing Peace Run adventure in Africa – Tanzania – Arusha.
9 of our 13 climbers took the peace torch all the way up to Uhuru Peak, 2 made it at least to Stella Point, I had to turn around after 3:15 hours climbing up the crater – but I was very happy still – and one had to stay at Kibu hut due to altitude sickness! More to follow, including tons of photos.
The weather gods were with us – mild temperatures, no wind, mostly clear sky – “because you had peace in your hearts”, one guide said – after an initial rainy day with thunderstorm at night at Mandara hut. Groups waiting to summit from Kibu hut that night were not allowed to summit – too dangerous!
More on www.peacerun.org – everything is up now! (pls. forgive the Austrian English 🙂
Nice slide show by Vaibhava: Dropbox Peace Run Africa
“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)
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!”
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.
“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
End of July was extremely eventful. I went to England to join an international team for the last part of the “Great British Peace Run” from Cardiff to Ipswich, be part of the inauguration ceremony of a Peace Statue of Sri Chinmoy – the founder of the World Harmony Peace Run and of our Marathon Team – in Ipswich Chantry Park on July 28th, and to pay a short visit to Dover on the way back to Heidelberg.
From Brazil to Dover, from Dover to France
Just then, on Saturday, July 27th, Adriano Passini (32), an aviation engineer from Sao Paulo, became the first member of the Sri Chinmoy Marathon Team Brazil to successfully swim the English Channel, in a fantastic time of 11 hours 10 min – the 44th EC swim by a member of the Sri Chinmoy Marathon Team. He was supported with tons of experience and lots of selfgiving dedication by Karteek Clarke from Scotland (“Scottish King of the Channel” with 10x EC) and his friend Ashirvad from Brazil, and expertly guided by “Gentleman-pilot” Chris Osmond on Seafarer 11, who in 2011 also safely landed our boys relay team and my friend and teammate Abhejali Bernadova (Czech Republic) on the French side.
Adriano – a vegetarian – had prepared himself very well for at least 2 years, physically, mentally and spiritually, including meditation – and even concentrated intensely on the exact swim date. And it worked! He had a daylight start and finish, a few hours of heavy rain and fog, but with the sun coming out at the end. He was very focussed and positive throughout the swim. The strong spring tide currents were no problem for him. To stay warm he may have swum extra fast. The water temperature had been a bit of a concern for him, finding no colder water than 19°C in Brazil, but he was wise to come early enough to Dover to get acclimatized in the harbour and not accept an earlier swim offer, and he was totally fine until the glorious finish in bright sunlight.
Here the link to a youtube-video of his Channel swim
Determination wins the day…
Read more: On his blog 10x EC-veteran Karteek shares a longer report from a helper`s perspective with more info about Adriano`s preparation and the swim itself.
…and sleep overtakes an exhausted helper:
Congratulations banner at Varne Ridge Caravan Park – is there a more inspiring place to stay for a Channel aspirant?
One day later at the Sri Chinmoy Peace Statue ceremony in Ipswich: the Mayor of Ipswich with 4 Channel swimmers (together 14 EC solos and 2 realys):
The swim course, courtesy CS&PF:
One of Adriano`s favourite mantras or spiritual aphorisms for a positive, impossibility-challenging attitude, which he used in preparation as well as during his swim, is by his spiritual teacher Sri Chinmoy (IMSHOF honouree 2012!):
“We are all truly unlimited,
If we only dare to try
And have faith.”
– Sri Chinmoy
“The message of self-transcendence
Is itself satisfaction,
Far beyond our imagination.” – Sri Chinmoy
No equal.” – Sri Chinmoy
We also paid a nice visit to Kevin Murhpy, “King of the Channel” (34 solo crossings) and secretary of the CS&PF. He has so many amazing stories, he could fill a number of books! Never heard his story before how he got lost on the African coast when swimming the Strait of Gibraltar!
Update: right now we are starting on Tue Oct. 9th, around 8:30 – if the start is prevented by fog, the next chance is Wednesday.
Here you may see the boat: https://www.marinetraffic.com/ais/de/default.aspx#
For the harbour, enter “Tarifa”, the name of the boat is Columbia 1 or 2.
On April 27, 1987, the first torches of the global relay called World Harmony Run now were lit in New York by UN ambassadors and Sri Chinmoy, the founder, at the U.N. Plaza. This retrospective video shows glimpses of those 25 years. I have been involved in this great project since its beginnings, and will be on the road again soon, meeting school children, city representatives, visiting mosques, synagogues and churches.
For the decade 2012 to 2022, Dr. Davidson Hepburn, President of the UNESCO General Conference, says about the World Harmony Run:
I believe that all global citizens are eagerly looking toward the next decade – 2022 and beyond – as a time of great progress and striking change.
It is imperative that we work together to build a true Oneness-World.
Among recent initiatives to strive toward this goal, the World Harmony Run is one of the most remarkable and far-reaching.
This is a link to the website with current events and to Dr. David Hepburn’s speech.
Brief New Year`s dip in the lake at Weinheim - warm outside, but water temp only around 7°C
Wishing everyone a happy New Year full of positive challenges, new adventures and progress, inner and outer, for ourselves and in our service to the world!
Booked to swim the Straits of Gibraltar October 2012 – my motto/mantra being “Swimming to Africa” – and started training after almost a year off from swimming.
The swim will be dedicated again to the ideals of the World Harmony Run, but also to the Tegla Loroupe Peace Foundation and The Last Giants – the whales in the Straits of Gibraltar and the efforts of https://www.firmm.org.
Found on Steven Munatones Blog DailyNewsOfOpenWaterSimming
Please don`t imitate unless you know what you are doing (and have someone with you to call the ambulance…)!
Start just changed: 3 a.m. on the boat, 3:30 off.
The tracker of our boat is No 3, Anastasia, where you can follow our route on Friday, start 4:30 a.m. Dover time (5:30 continental)
Right now I am fighting a slight fever from a very cold caravan night with Aspirin, ginger tea, Vit. C and rest. Hoping to get fit again in time. Prayers welcome!
We decided the van for the biking will only leave Heidelberg IF and When I have touched French ground.
“Do the best you can, cheerfully, accept the worst calmly ….” (by Sri Chinmoy)
“Be courageous, be determined, be self-giving – the goal will be yours!” (inofficial quote by Sri Chinmoy)
France so close
Finally the weather has calmed down. Since Monday there has been one successful swim after the other. The mornings are glorious up here at the Ridge, and at night France is glittering in the distance under a star-strewn clear sky. The flags are flying again at the Ridge, after a long time of horrible weather (hoisted for every successful swimmer staying here).
We are leaving Friday morning for sure. France is waiting! Mentally I am already on the bike and run. (Even if I did not make the swim I decided to continue this time, if only for training reasons.) But everythings is looking great, the water is at it’s warmest now and the sun should be out during the day. Nights are chilly, but then we will start around 4:30 a.m. Dover time, swim mainly during the day and hopefully land in the evening – and the water will feel only warmer for it.
One great last minute helper has emerged – a fast Swedish swimmer who will swim in 3 weeks’ time and is eager to get some experience on the boat and may even want to join me in the water for some time (she could pace a me a bit towards the end). The helpers I had hoped for had to cancel unfortunately.
Flags are flying at the Ridge again - foto session with one of the swimmers
So down to last minute preparations, bit of shopping, lots of rest, good food and tapering. Enjoyable simple life. But I am eager to finally get it done and then move on to something else!!!
Vijaya receiving the Gertrude Ederle award (photo Dover UK)
On Dec. 23rd we received the sad news that Vijaya Catherine Claxton had left this earth.
She was a respected member of the International Sri Chinmoy Marathon Team who made it across the English Channel from Dover to France the hard way on Sept. 8, 2007, in 22 hours 27 min., after three heroic attempts in the years before. Vijaya, who held a responsible position at the United Nations Headquarters in New York, became the oldest US lady to swim the Channel at age 59, and in March 2008 received the prestigious Gertrude-Ederle-Award for the most meritorious CS&PF English Channel swim by a woman in 2007.
“Vijaya was a bubbly person known to a lot of us in the Channel swimming world. She came into our lives determined to swim the Channel and did it on her fourth attempt with Eddie in 2008. Her first three attempts were with me. All were long swims, all were great advances on the previous swim. All were very happy swims with a great support team of girls who enjoyed life to the full. Vijaya, complete with her smile and her willingness to help all around her will be sadly missed by the people who knew her. Those who did not know her missed out on one of the little pleasures of life.” – Mike Oram, pilot and Hon. Secretary of the CS&PF, and Angela Oram, Assistant Hon. Secretary of the CS&PF
Vijaya after her successful swim Sept 2007 with Alison Streeter, Queen of the Channel (43 crossings) and "King" Kevin (photo by Cliff Golding)
“I happened to be on the jetty when Vijaya came off the boat after her Channel swim and I recall being immensely impressed by how cheerful and energetic she was. She wasn’t fast but she had enormous determination. It was a long and therefore a tough swim – but you never would have known it. She was an inspiration.” – Kevin Murphy, “King of the Channel” (34 crossings)
“I remember Vijaya swimming in the Dover harbor, always having a smile on her face, no matter how long she was in the water. The love she had for the water and our sport will be missed.” – Marcy McDonald, Connecticut
“She was truly an inspiration. Vijaya taught me so much and I am a better person for having known her.” – Anne Cleveland
More: www.thewaterisopen.com, on my old blog, on Sri Chinmoy Races and on Open Water Swimmig.eu and Dover UK.
“You don’t have a Soul. You are a Soul. You have a body.” – C. S. Lewis
“Death has no access
To the soul.
It only has access
To our weak and fragile body.” – Sri Chinmoy
“Death is at once
The end of the body’s
And the beginning of the soul’s
New journey.” – Sri Chinmoy
Meeting Carl Lewis again in New York, Oct. 2009 (He is wearing the same T-shirt under his jacket!)
During a short visit to New York to honour the Mahasamadhi anniversary of my teacher Sri Chinmoy on Oct. 11th, I had the good fortune of meeting once again Carl Lewis (“Athlete of the Century”), who has been a supporter of and spokesman for the World Harmony Run since its inception back in 1987. Carl has launched a new project FitForever.com – the ultimate online fitness tool and community – and everyone is welcome to join!
Back to running
Running is fun again now that temperatures are beginning to drop. (I basically hadn’t run since my slow 12 hour run in Basel in May.) I love running in the crisp autum air, with brightly coloured leaves all around, and even now, in misty, slightly depressive November. But with my extra kilos now, I have become quite slow. Kastura, a friend, has given me some tips how to get faster again. Next goals: Heidelberg half marathon end of April, then 6 hour-race in Nuremberg (March) and 12 hours of Basel in May. For swimming: 12 hours, Zurich indoors, on March 1st, 2010.
Back to the Neckar
Since our English Channel relay I hadn’t been swimming at all. The indoor pool is still frightening me with its warm temperatures, but I will have to start training for speed, technique, and endurance soon. The first cold dip in the Neckar this season was on Sunday, Nov. 15 – must have been way below Channel temperature already.
Today (Nov. 17th) an article about our English Channel relay appeared in our local newspaper. Feels a bit out of place for only 3 hours 21 min. of swimming in my case, but it was a great adventure with a lot of oneness in our international team – which may be much more important than just doing great things for yourself! And if anybody gets any inspiration from it, I am very happy!
The Neckar in November
Crawl in the Neckar is reserved for Heidelberg-Man-relays (the water is not too clean)
(The article says I was the first German woman – but the truth is: just the first German woman in the annals of the Channel Swimming Association (CSA). In 1938, during the Nazi-regime, Dr. Bruna Plarre swam the Channel in the “Daily Mail International Channel Race” – not sure if it was according to current Channel swimming rules. And the first German male swimmer was Ulrich Haevecker in 1982, 4 min. slower, but breaststroke!)
“Just silence the mind.
Cosmic energy enters
Into our entire being,
And tremendous energy
Flows in and through us.”
– Sri Chinmoy –
I had hoped for a 5 hour swim this week – but it didn`t happen. Thursday (holiday): by the time I was ready to head to the “nice” pool they announced they would close it due to the weather. The warm pool of course was overcrowded, plus too warm, and the lake no option again.
Saturday the weather was perfect and the nice pool pretty emty, but I only managed 2,5 hours – just not enough inner intensity, energy and mental patience. Sunday only 1 pool hour in the morning and one lake hour with fins in the afternoon – not even 5 hours over the whole weekend!
Looking at my training schedule from last year I just cannot believe what I did then and where I got the power to do it. Totally different focus. But it’s fine. Just getting ready for the Zurich lake now. Trying to find my extra boat.
At the same time I am constantly thinking “I want to loose weight”, I feel so heavy with my extra kilos, especially for running – and I may not need them this year. Last year they would have been perfect. But then, a spontaneous solo end of September if the weather is fine is still in the back of my mind.
Ashrita posing with his Guinness World Record Certificate for 100 GWRs
I have known Ashrita Furman since 1981. His focus, determination, dedication to his spiritual teacher Sri Chinmoy (like Hanuman, if you know the Ramayana) and his boundless, exuberant, at times quite wild, but basically 🙂 innocent enthusiasm and energy combined with a totally positive attitude have inspired me many times.
What started out at a time when many of our team entered into the field of ultra-distances with the idea to challenge inner and outer limitations in a spirit of self-transcendence (not rivalry) and in search for spiritual experiences, in his case became an intense pursuit, often athletic but also exotic or involving group oneness, to challenge the “impossible” by breaking or establishing Guinness Records.
On April 14th, 2009, Ashrita became the first person ever to hold 100 Guinness World Records at one time, by organising the translation and recitation of a text – the poem “Precious” by our late teacher Sri Chinmoy – in the most number of languages (I heard not all 111 languages were recognised, some being dialects, but the record is valid.)
(Media all over the world picked up the story, here a link to local report in the New York Daily News)
213 records stretched out over a span of 30 years were needed to reach that goal – many broken several times by others in the meantime. Many of Ashritas records, like sommersaulting for 12 miles in 1986, were very tough – physically and mentally. But at the same time he had lots of fun over the years – even with record attempts that never worked out.
Here the official Guinness World Record press release about his latest record. (The stories on his blog are a fascinating read, by the way!)
GUINNESS WORLD RECORDS HONORS ONE MAN’S HISTORIC MILESTONE – 100 RECORDS BROKEN!
Ashrita Furman Becomes First Person to Hold 100 Guinness World Records Simultaneously
NEW YORK – April 14, 2009 – Ashrita Furman reached a milestone today by becoming the first person to simultaneously hold 100 Guinness World Records when he and over 100 participants earned the world record for “A Poem / Literary Passage Recited in the Most Languages.” The historic moment was a long time in the making for Furman, who has been breaking Guinness World Records for over 30 years. New York City Councilman James F. Gennaro presided over the event at City Hall Park in New York City and Guinness World Records judge Danny Girton Jr. was on hand to verify the feat.
Ashrita being honoured by Guiness World Records for his 100st standing GWR
Furman and over 100 members from the Sri Chinmoy Centre recited “Precious” by Sri Chinmoy in 111 languages including Afrikaans, Dzongkha, Kabyle and Picard. The group beat the current record held by the International Social Service of Hong Kong, which recited “Values on Communal Harmony” in 79 different languages on November 23, 2008.
Celebrating cultural diversity – and a tribute to his teacher Sri Chinmoy
The proud record-breaker had this to say about his unprecedented accomplishment, “With more than 170 nationalities represented in New York City this record celebrates the diversity of our city. While it wasn’t as physically challenging as some of my other records, having this record as my 100th is a very special tribute to Sri Chinmoy.”
“What Ashrita did today is an amazing feat for him and Guinness World Records alike,” said Craig Glenday, Editor-in-Chief at Guinness World Records. “He has a 30-year relationship with Guinness World Records that is nothing less than stunning, breaking records around the world and proving that you don’t have to be famous to be the world’s best.”
New York City Councilman James F. Gennaro (D-Queens) added, “This is exactly the type of event that should take place in the seat of New York City government. To speak and hear the precious utterances of Sri Chinmoy is truly an inspiration.”
Ashrita Furman has been breaking Guinness World Records since 1979, when he completed 27,000 jumping jacks to earn his first Guinness World Record. Since then, the 54-year old health food store manager from Queens, New York has broken records on all seven continents, including completing the fastest mile on a pogo stick in Antarctica and bouncing the fastest mile on a kangaroo ball along the Great Wall of China. Furman has practiced meditation for over 30 years, which helps him keeps his concentration during marathon record attempts. Whether it be performing forward rolls for the entire 12-mile length of Paul Revere’s ride through Massachusetts or racing against a Yak in Mongolia to set the mile sack-racing record, Furman is a determined individual and a true world-class record holder! (end of Guinness World Records press release)
Why he does it? More on his video-interview by Kedar Misani on Live Voices right after the event.
Over the weekend I got immersed in Lynne Cox`s gripping and deeply inspiring autobiographic “thriller”: “Swimming to Antarctica”. The title is slightly misleading, because in this book she recounts most or even all of her important and historic swims – from the Channel world record swim in 1972 to her swim of the Millennium: crossing the 40°F Bering Strait between Alaska and Russia during the Cold War in 1987. Including the incredible story about her Cook Strait crossing, where dolphins came to help her when conditions got so bad she was about to give up. It is all about absolute dedication, determination, vision, self-transcendence and a deep awareness of the oneness of humanity.
A friend from Seattle had sent me a copy of the book with a signed personal note from Lynne (we have only met on Facebook so far, as part of the open water swimming community). I realised I could have met her in 1987 in New York, where she was celebrated after her world-changing feat – only we were so caught up in the launch of the first edition of what has become the World Harmony Run since then. It is great to see, however, how the ideal of a global world family is persued and expressed in so many different ways. Hope you will hold the Harmony Run torch one day, Lynne – in case you come to read this!
As to reading the book – absolutely recommend to anyone who is into the spirit of breaking barriers – you do not have to be a swimmer to get carried away and inspired by it!
Since last September, my swim training has been pretty reduced, but I put on some more weight, without much effort, and was happy to find that running is still possible at 85 kg (my weight of 1985, last year it was only 77 kg) – although it may be easier in winter than in scorching heat in summer, but now my first and foremost goal is the Channel – the rest will work somehow. I am trying to acclimatise better to cold water this year and plan to use the Neckar and a nearby lake quite a bit more.
A dip in the Neckar on Jan. 11, 2009
Today, pool training started, with a view to participate in the 12 hour indoor swimming event in Zurich on March 1st.
Welcome to my new Channel-Triathlon Blog for 2009. To find out what happened in 2008, please visit my old blog.
The White Cliffs of Dover seen from the French Coast – looking so close! But….