In appreciation to all those who’ve prepared me for this challenge, including fantastic sponsors, amazing coaches, incredible open water swimmers, endurance athletes and supportive friends, here is the blog on my attempt to swim across the Strait of Magellan.
The Strait of Magellan (Estrecho de Magallanes) is a passage located at the southern tip of South America, among the Chilean Patagonia and Tierra del Fuego Islands. The area is officially known as Region XII of the Magellan and Chilean Antarctic. Even for ships this passage between the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans is difficult because of the unpredictable winds and currents. Add the cold water and waves and this waterway has the reputation as one of the most dangerous and treacherous in the world (followed closely by Lane 4 of the SAC pool).
The currents sweeping north from Antarctica combined with winds coming off the mountains means this area connecting the Atlantic and the Pacific is filled with whirlpools and eddies. Several unique phenomenon in the area also add to the excitement such as a double high water effect and the Williwaw. The Williwaw is a sudden violent squall that lashes off the mountains at speeds up to 180 knots and create 1 to 5 meter high seas.
Safety is a huge concern for the swim so we will be utilizing assets from one of the worlds top navy for support and guidance during this attempt. The Chilean Navy frigate "Elicura" will be our base of operations and escort during the entire time in the strait.
Details of the Swim: The Strait of Magellan crossing is a 4.1 kilometer (2.4 mile) swim across the narrowest point of the strait in the Punta Delgada region of the First Narrows. This area can see as much as 31 million gallons per second blast through during a maximum tidal exchange so the total distance traveled could easily reach 10 kilometers. The jump window will be between January 18th and the 25th dependent on conditions. Water temperature is expected to be 37 degrees which would qualify this as an extreme cold water swim. Our target swim time is 90 minutes with a cutoff at 2 hours. Swim gear will consist of textile manufactured swim shorts, goggles and swim cap (all supplied by TYR). Support personnel following in zodiacs will wear full survival suits and safety divers in drysuits. I've kept the option of wearing a neoprene cap open for now which would put me outside of the English Channel crossing rules.
Why Swim? The Strait of Magellan swim is considered one of toughest open water swims in the world with only a small number of people having attempted. The type of challenge where only completion counts. Preparation has taken two years and in that time I've met and trained with an amazing group of athletes. Olympic swim team hopefuls, English Channel challengers, Ironman world championship competitors and Seattle year around open water swimmers. This group of people make even the most difficult challenges look easy and have helped provide me with the training and confidence to make this attempt. (Plus I also picked the short straw with team Williwaw)
Watch for more updates on local training, on-site training and jump day excitement coming soon!