So Martin Strel came and made a presentation to our LOST swimmers on Friday… and it was great!  It was a casual event and Martin regaled us with his stories for over an hour… and man, does he have stories! 

Far too many stories for me to summarize, in fact, far to many even for him to touch on in one presentation.  You can start with the fact that he was a high level competitive swimmer, has run a 2:57 marathon (when he was out of shape and over 200 lbs) and then became an professional marathon swimmer.  But the real fun, and worldwide notoriety, came when he took on huge adventure swims.  Can you imagine the stories you would have if you’d sum for 84 hours straight… yes, 84 hours… down the Danube… or swam the entire length of the Mississippi… or swam the entire length of the incredibly filthy Yangtze River in China.  But the most intriguing swim, as if the others were boring, was his swim of over 5600 km’s, over 66 consecutive days, of the Amazon River!  Running into a the deadly Bushmaster snake on the second day… having to have his back stitched up from the piranha bites… enjoying swimming with the dolphins for days on end… because they protected him from the Bull Sharks!  And on and on…

Miguel Vadillo (Lake Ontario Crossing), Madhu Nagaraja (English Channel), Melanie Price (Lake Ontario Crossing), Martin Strel (Danube, Mississippi, Yangtze and Amazon Rivers!), Rob Kent (Manhattan Island Marathon Swim), Bill Johnson (Ironman), Bud Seawright (10k Champion)... an impressive group of swimmers!

A few us even got our picture taken with him, bought an autographed copy of the full length DVD of the Amazon swim (which won awards at the Sundance and Toronto Film Festivals) had time for a plate of nachos and a couple of pints after the presentation!

With regards to the movie, I must say that I had spoken to Martin and more so to his son, Borut, in the past, but most of my impression of Martin came from the movie.  And believe it or not, the movie made him look… hmm, more than a little crazy.  Well, he’s definitely cut from a different cloth than most of us… but I must say that I was surprised at what a “normal” guy he really is.  He would be the first to tell you that he gets into a different mind set for these big swims… which I would think is a bit of an understatement… but the Martin that we met was a thoughtful, intelligent, down-to-earth and just a generally nice man.  Really a treat to meet and speak with someone that has experienced so much in his life.  Thanks Martin!

PS.  If you want a copy of the movie, I’m sure you could drop him an email and either he or Borut would sent you a copy ($25), Strelswimming.com.  He has also started a new business, he and Borut run a swim camp in Arizona at the beautiful Lake Powell.  Borut is sending me some info on that and I’ll put that up in another post in a few days.

Cheers,

Rob

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I founded LOST Swimming because I like open water swimming and would like to see it grow and thrive in Lake Ontario. I started as a competitive swimmer as a kid and ended up getting as far as a silver medal at Nationals and going to the Olympic Trials in 1988. But I retired after that, I was sick of swimming. So I got into running marathons and have run over 35 to date, as well as a few ultra marathons, including the Marathon des Sables (7 day, ultra across the Sahara Desert). I also kind of fell into triathlons and have done a handful of Ironman tri's too. This gradually got me back in the water and in 2006 I took the plunge and attempted swimming the English Channel. I didn't quite make it across, but the circle was now complete and after 17 years I was a swimmer again! Although I still do plenty of pool swimming, I now much prefer open water swimming and like to say that open water swimming is to pool swimming, what trail running is to treadmill running! As a result I hope to encourage more people to join me for a dip in Lake Ontario as often as we can!

1 COMMENT

  1. well, I must say I’m sad that all of you got to be in a picture together without me and hanging out with another great swimmer on Friday evening- BUT… I did get to have dinner with Curt Harnett and meet Ian Hill- one of the most inspiring men I have ever met in my life. When I told Curt that I was an endurance athlete, he said he felt bad for me and was sorry to hear that!!! ah ha ha ha… that man has won olympic gold medals in times under a minute!!!

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