Carver's Europe to Africa swim (Gibraltar Strait) from sc on Vimeo.

Swim, Europe to Africa – Scheduled for week of September 10th(complete Sept. 16th ya!)

My official route from Europe to Africa

TRIP REPORT:

The hardest thing about going to Spain for a World Class event is...well your in Spain...which means the following:

1.  u start dinner at 11pm

2.  u enjoy cocktails until 6 or 7 am

3.  u wake up woozy and sleep it off in the sun

Not the optimal way to prepare for a marathon swim, but far be it from me to disregard the local customs.

Day 1 - Sept 10

So Yus and i arrived in Malaga around 8 pm and awaited the arrival of our buddy Ted (the ted rockwell...) at around 10.  He showed as promised and with Mehdi behind the wheel we headed to Tarifa.  the drive was...welldark... and we arrive at around 1am with just enough time to enjoy some Spanish cocktails before heading to bed.

Day 2 - Are we getting close?

I contacted raphael at arond 10am.  Raphael is is the president of the Gibraltar Swimming Association and he arranges everything which includes making the call on when to attempt the crossings.  You see you need to plan to stay for around a week because you can't plan on the current, wind, cold, waves, sharks..(ok maybe not).  So i called Raphael and he wanted to meet at 10am the next day...and he told me there was a small...possibility that we might go that day...which would be the 11th.

That night Yus. Ted and I sat around while I mixed my powdered energy drink into a huge vat of water that i bought at the store...we were all hoping that 'tomorrow' would be the day as it's definatley a bit harder to enjoy the beautiful town and beaches with the swim just around the corner.

So i thought i should be Carbo loading...now let me say i am not one of those people who really worries too much about "precision fueling."  For me it's like...you need to swim 12-15 miles...that is all...do what you want but blame no one but yourself...so its not about pasta or electolytes...its about u (meaning me).

Anyhow I brewed this evil bath up...like 5 gallons of energy drink...what would tomorrow bring?

Day 3 - Psych!

So today is Sept 12th.  I met Raphael at around 10 am and he said "No Go."  Arggggggg that bites...apparently the tide was wrong for the day and to fight the tide would most likely mean that I would end up near the Canary Islands, which is out in the Atlantic.  Even worse was that fact that the Lavante (wind from onshore) was coming in the next 24 hours.  Tarifa was the kitesurfing capitol of Europe and the Levante is the wind the occasionally comes from the North (like the Santa Ana's in So Cal) which produce the optimal kiting weather.  Great for kite swimming but impossible for swimmers.  So what it meant was that the next 'window' was september 16th!!!!!!!, 4 days away...which brings me back to enjoying the local customs...no matter what.

We also had to move all our flights to Barcelona as my swim looked like it would take place on the 16th...the day we were to leave for Baarcelona...so Kudos to Yus and Teddy who were nothing less than supportive.

Day 4 - 8

So this is where i laugh.  I am not one to be a downer so we did the following while waiting for the moment where i would try to make the swim:

-Send all day in the sun

-spend a minimum of 3 hours kite surfing

-enjoy going out till 7am

Day 9

So this was it...i woke early knowing that i would leave at around 1oam.  We had to get the tide right and 10 looked like the right time to take off.

I ended up not using the energy drink potion i had brewed on the 10th.  I think it started to actually ferment...to risky so i went to the store for old fashioned Gatoraide.

I have to say now...when we awoke at 8am, the weather, for the first time since we arrived, was sketchy.  It was cloudy and windy.  Clouds i can deal with but the wind is a problem when swimming out in the Ocean far from land.  The last thing i wanted was to have to cancel the swim aftera few hours in the water...which had happened many times.

We arrived at the office of the Gibraltar Swimming  Assoc., and the weather started getting better...thankfully.  Most importatly it was time

The next 1/2 hour was crazy...and this is when the inclusion of my buds Yus and Ted made all the difference.  For Ted he volunteered to record the entire episode.  As i was only the 200th and something and 29th American to (if i made it) complete this, it was important to me to record the experience, (somethig to show the kids assuming I have some...either way Mom would be proud).  Yus was able to talk with the drivers and feel them out for the best advice, but we had to make sure Yus was ok...Sea sickness and all :)


Making sure Yus doesnt't get sick.... from sc on Vimeo.

I suppose I should explain at this point.  There were two boats;  the first was a very large (30'?) boat which would act as the guide boat.  It would run about 50-80 meters ahead of me for reference.  The current's were brutal so a few minutes off line could create 30 minutes of additional swiming to reach the African Coast.  Or if you go too slow u miss Morocco all together....(next stop...washing up on the Malta coast in a few days).

So off we went.  I touched the coast of Spain and headed towards Africa.  I clearly remember the moment before I left.  Yus was talking to the boat captain about strategy as he had captained quite a few crossings.  And his advice to coach...and to me...was to start hard.  He said that many a person had failed becasue they had started to slowly and were unable to beat the current and thus had to give up.  So Yus told me that and it was a hard conversation.  In one sense, its relevant as this guy has led other swimmers in their attempt.  But on the other side of the coin I had a strategy and mile per minute time that I planned to stick to.  I am not really sure what it was but I think it goes to trust...Yus said exaclty this:

"I'm  not telling u to change your strategy but this guy has done 200 crossings so consider it."

Thankfully i took the advice....

I started out hard; way harder than i had planned.  I really think i started out as hard or harder than I would for a 1k swim at home...and this is a 20-25k ocean swim.  The first 2 and 4 and 6 and 8 and 9 and 11 miles went by pretty quick and I felt good.  At around a mile to go it became real painful. 

The last mile was one of the most painful things I have ever done.  There are a few challenges.  The first is that you never really know where the finish is becasuse your always driting due to the tide/current and waves.  So in a sense your always drifting away from the finish.  Secondly, you can never be sure of what part of the coast you'll hit until you get there.  So you could hit Afrika where the coast line heads to the south and end up swimming 30 minutes more than if you had just been 2 minutes faster.  Finally, after many hours of crashing through waves and swallowing salt water I started to feel pretty sick.  I laugh now when Yus threw me (on my request) a snickers bar, but I was too tired to grab it...so the bar just splashed in the ocean and flooated before me.  I picked it up and tried to eat it and...immediately threw up...which in the end, really felt good.  (It reminds me now of the Babe Ruth scene in Caddy Shack).

I noticed after I had finished ...that if I had missed the part of Morocco that I landed at I would have had to swim for another 40 minutes due to the way the shore fell to the South...I can only imagine....

In the end it all worked out well...tough but very fun and rewarding-

-317the person to successfully make the swim

-29th American

It doesn't look so far from space....

 

 

 


Carver's Europe to Africa swim (Gibraltar Strait) from sc on Vimeo.

 

 

 

 

This is (now was :) )without a doubt my most dubious challenge yet. I was never a swimmer growing up and never swam in any way in school. Even so i always had a love for the sport, in an 'unorganized' sense. I enjoyed swimming outdoors but not so much in the pool, so marathon swimming sounded, at the time, like a good idea. The only reason the Europe to Africa swim even entered my mind is I had to swim a bit because of a foot injury that didn’t allow me to run.

Funny enough I have a pretty good idea of my mindset when I thought of this idea.... It would have been last fall when I was coming up with different challenges for my 40th year. More than likely I was relaxing in front of the fire with enjoying a nice glass of Jack...thinking “ah swimming in Spain, in the late summer, sounds like a fun challenge! Lets add it to the list’

The reality of 20-25km in the cold Ocean with things that bite and sting and waves and the current, etc., didn’t seem like such a big deal at the time J Of course either did the fact that I wasn’t swimming and my longest continuous swim...in my life...was about 2km.

But this is really a good example of two things. First off, it would have been much easier to just forget about it...but that is part of what I hate most...talking and not doing. And secondly by taking on big ‘challenges’ it forces you to really concentrate on what you need to do...what you should be doing...to succeed.

Well, I’ll soon find out if I have done enough.... Below the ‘what, why and how’ are some points from the association who will certify my swim.

What: Swim from Europe to Africa (one continent to another) by way of Spain to Morocco (or Spain to wherever i wash up)

Why: Because without some really bad ideasI'll never know what a good idea is. Really its about having one of two enormous challenges and this is one of them.

How: Make sure your crazy first. Then the swim is ratified through the Gibraltar Strait Swimming Association" (ACNEG ) who manages and certifies the attempts.