Saturday, October 3, 2009

Dave's Swim from Europe to Africa

Dave Matthes made the trip from California to Spain with a specific goal in mind - to swim from Spain to Morocco - across the Strait of Gibraltor. Check out the details of his swim below!

"Dave Matthews, Masters Swimmer from California, swims the Strait of Gibraltar in a Blue 70 Reaction Sleeveless Wetsuit. The wetsuit proved to be warm, fast and comfortable even after hours and hours of swimming.
The Strait of Gibraltar separates Spain from Morocco (Europe from Africa) and connects the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea. According to the Gibraltar Strait Swimming Association, who regulate swimming across the Strait,
“The shortest distance across the Gibraltar Strait is from Punta Oliveros (Spain) to Punta Cires (Morocco) with a total distance of 14.4 kilometers (about 9 miles). Because of the characteristics of the crossing between these two points, it is not the most suitable course for the swimmer. Most of the attempts have been made from Tarifa Island to the vicinity of Punta Cires having to swim between 18.5 to 22 kilometers due to the influence of the strong currents which prevail in the Strait. The fundamental factor in the crossing is the current, which is almost always eastbound, and can reach more than 3 knots (5.5 Km/h). “
Since the water was below the temperature wetsuit vs. non-wetsuit threshold I had set (66 F), I decided to do the swim in a wetsuit which meant my crossing, if I made it, would be considered wetsuit assisted. Otherwise I was going to swim in the Blue 70 Nero. After 8 days of waiting for the weather conditions to permit and other swimmers to try a crossing, my day arrived on September 19, 2009. Since another swimmer (Marko Rafaj) was also waiting and was about my same speed we decided to swim the Strait together. Marko is also a Blue 70 fan and was wearing a Nero legskin and Blue 70 goggles.
Marko and I boarded one of the two escort boats, one pilot boat and one support boat. When we were close to our starting point, we jumped into the water, touched a large rock outcropping, and began swimming. My first thoughts were that the water was very cold and the currents extraordinarily strong. However, neither of us stopped and we both kept swimming. I also felt some confidence knowing I was wearing the Blue 70 wetsuit. We soon passed through the strongest currents and coldest water and hit the middle of the Strait, which was surprising warm, upper 60’s, and relatively calm. We swam in this section of open water nirvana for about an hour and a half until we were about 2 miles from Morocco.
With about a mile remaining, we began seeing Moroccan and Spanish Coast Guard boats near us. We were told we had to exit the water. We didn’t know what had happened. When we got on board, we were told that a boat of people attempting to illegally immigrate to Europe from Africa had capsized and that they were searching for survivors and bodies. They ended up finding 11 survivors and 8 bodies. The remaining 20 to 40 people were lost at sea.
The pilot boat had to find another place for us to land. After consulting his charts to make sure we swam more than enough distance, he motored down the coast of Morocco. After 45 minutes or so, he had us get in the water and swim to a Moroccan beach. After 40 minutes of swimming, we touched land! The swim was done. My swim time was recorded in the logs as 4 hours and 46 minutes and covered around 20 km."

Congrats from all of us at blueseventy Dave!

1 comment:

Marko Rafaj said...

Hi, I am very proud to meet very good swimmer and very good person David. He helped me a lot during my swimming Gibraltar Strait and I thing that he describes our swimming correct. Thank you again David for everything.
Marko Rafaj