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The annual continent-to-continent swimming challenge
The 5th continental crossing for Madswimmer initially seemed quite easy, a quick dash across the month of the Panama Canal and then a long swim down the coast of Panama.. if only. After 6 months and numerous letters to the Panama Canal Authorities, requests through the South African Government’s regional ambassador in Mexico, requests through the office of the President of South Africa, visits and more letters to the Panamanian Ambassador in Pretoria, the group eventually opted to cross the Chagres river, which forms the mainstay of the Panama Canal and is the natural split between North and South America. A further consideration was that the Chagres river is home to one of the worlds largest American crocodile colonies. The group considered various risk mitigation options including rifleman support, acacia root juice and crocodile cages.
Mad Swimmer 2013 Post Swim Borchure
Atlantic coast of Panama
The swimmers covered the total swim of 21.3km in 7 hours and 12 minutes, linking North America to South America, thus completing their stage 5 of the swim successfully.
2013 North America to South America
Jean Craven, Robert Dunford, Evan Feldman, Michiel le Roux, Linda Main, Gerhard Zandberg & Johann Theron
2013 North to South America, The Chagres River, Panama
Swimming team make their way up river for the start of the swim
2012 Asia to Africa, The Start, Tiran Saudi Arabia
The swimmers and kayak support Johann Theron setting out to the start
2011 Australasia to Asia, Papua New Guinea
23.3 km and 6 hours later, Jean Craven PNG Indonesia border
2009 Europe to Africa, Gibraltar, Spain Morocco
Tim Ziehl and Jean Craven with their Russian relay escourt
2012 Asia to Africa, Strait of Tiran, Red Sea
Jean Craven, Robert Dunford & Michiel le Roux
2012 Asia to Africa, Saudi Arabia, Strait of Tiran
Rob, Jean and Michiel, the start, 5 hours swimming ahead
2010 Asia to Europe, hydrating before the swim
Evan Feldman and Jean Craven with nervous smiles
2009 Europe to Africa, victory, Morocco
Jean Craven, Tim Ziehl, Russian relay swimmers, Morocco!
2012 Asia to Africa, the End, Sharm el Sheikh
Robert Dunford, Jean Craven & Michiel le Roux 21.1 km later
What started off as a late winter nights’ bet in a chalet on the French slopes in 2009 has sparked a group of brave individuals to embark on an annual challenge – swimming between the worlds’ 7 continents.
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About the Challenge
There are SEVEN CONTINENTS in the world. There are SIX current human POSSIBLE open water SWIMS between these continents. Madswimmer will this year attempt to complete number FIVE in a row of these swims.
2009 Stage 1: Europe to Africa
In 2009 Jean Craven and Tim Ziehl swam across the Strait of Gibraltar, crossing the 17 km stretch from Spain to Morocco in just 4 hours 22 minutes. Feeling sorry for taking betting monies collected from their friends, monies were donated to various charities supporting orphanages and similar charities.
2010 Stage 2: Asia to Europe
In 2010 the challenge shifted to swimming from Asia to Europe in Turkey. The trip was planned around a support vessel, the infamous Daffodil. After a spate of bad luck including extreme bad weather, numerous vessel breakages, having to move the swimming location three times, penalty threats from the local authorities for swimming in one of the world’s busiest shipping lanes and a 1.75m / second current, the team, consisting of Jean Craven and new comers, Evan Feldman and Colin Franks, eventually managed to cross the Black Sea / Bosporus, completing their 12 km challenge in just over 4 hours.
2011 Stage 4: Australasia to Asia
The team completed the 23.3 km swim from Papua New Guinea to Papua in 6 hours and 30 seconds, crossing from Oceania / Australasia to Asia. The swim took place on 21 October 2011. There was quite some nerves around salt water crocodiles, sharks as well as cannibal tribes before the swim, but fortunately the Gods smiled on the swimming team with no fatalities during the swim. The team consisted of Andrew McLaggan and Jean Craven.
2012 Stage 3: Asia to Africa
Obtaining permission to cross the Gulf of Aqaba from the Egyptian authorities was quite a challenge. Hacking all the way to Sharm el Sheikh via Cairo with a 83 kg shark net built by the Kwazulu Natal Sharks’ Board proved a challenge in itself. Nevertheless, the group comprising Jean Craven, Robert Dunford and Michiel le Roux managed to cross the Strait of Tiran swimming from Saudi Arabia to Egypt, a distance of 21.1km in 4 hours 55 minutes. Johann Theron was in the support Kayak.
2013 Stage 5: North America to South America
After 6 months of constant struggle to acquire all the necessary permissions, the group eventually opted to cross the Chagres river, which forms the mainstay of the Panama Canal and is the natural split between North and South America. The next challenge was the fact that the Chagres river is home to one of the worlds largest American crocodile colonies. We managed to persuade two of the bravest young warriors from the Embera Indian tribe to join us and help find a safe place to cross the river for our North to South America swim. The second half of our swim on the Atlantic coast of Panama was less eventful, but long. The swimmers covered the total swim of 21.3km in 7 hours and 12 minutes, linking North America to South America, thus completing their stage 5 of the swim successfully.
2012: Asia to Africa
Accourding to the Wikipedia Moses crossed the Red Sea circa 1623 B.C. 3 635 years later a group consisting of Jean Craven, Robert Dunford and Michiel le Roux crossed the Rea Sea again, this time in the opposite direction, swimming. On the 15th of October 2012 the three swimmers ferried accorss by the Sanafir Waiver and supported by friends and family did the 21.1km crossing in 4 hours and 55 minutes. Although the swim started in quite choppy conditions and a strong tide from the front side, the wind died down and tides where generally favourable for the rest of the swim.
The swimmers and their support team spent the weekend in Cairo before the swim, visiting the famous Pyramids of Giza and riding camels. After a few light camel kicking incidents, the whole group flew down to Sharm el Sheikh on the Sunday evening before the swim on Monday the 15th of October. Travelling along with them was a shark net built by the South African Kwazulu Natal Sharks Board – weighing a whopping 83 kg, and not willing to courier the net up to Sharm, the group had to check in the net as cabin baggage along the whole trip – this proved to be quite a challenge. Ironically, as the group consulted with Sinai Blues, their boat and support crew provider, they decided not to use the net as the risk of sharks was deemed to be quite low.
On the morning of 15 October 2012 at 05h30 the group set sail towards Saudi Arabia and started their swim at 07h04. After the swim a celebratory tour was arranged in the same Sanafit Waiver boat that ferried them across to Saudi Arabia.
Conditions on this swim where perfect, and Madswimmer doubts if the next two possible swims can beat these conditions.
See all the pics on Picasa »
2011: Australasia to Asia
On the 21st of October 2011 the team completed the continental crossing from Oceania / Australasia to Asia, covering a 23.3 km stretch from Papua New Guinea to Indonesia (The Island of Papua). Weather conditions on the day were acceptable with the wind gusting up to 13 knots. The water temperature was warm, around 27 degrees Celsius. There were some nerves around the local cannibal tribes, salt water crocodiles and the normal shark threat, but fortunately the swim took place without any incident. A support boat in the form of a local banana boat proved adequate. Shark pods worn by the swimmers also proved some mental comfort. The swim was done by Jean Craven, with support from newcomer Andrew “Long Shanks” Mclaggan, who joined in some section so of the swim and helped on the support boat.
Andrew and Jean where based in a small town called Vanimo, about 50 km from the West Papua (Indonesia) Papua New Guinea Border.
Travelling to the swimming destination was a challenge in itself. The team took a brief stopover in Auckland, New Zealand, to rest and recuperate, before taking on the balance of the trip. Fortunately the rugby world cup was over this time taking place in New Zealand and the swimming team could kill their time watching both semi finals.
2010: Asia to Europe
In 2010 the challenge shifted to swimming from Asia to Europe in Turkey. The trip was planned around support vessel, the infamous Daffodil. After a spate of bad luck including extreme bad weather, vessel breakages and having to relocate the swim start and finish three times, penalty threats from the local authorities for swimming in one of the world’s busiest shipping lanes and a 1.75m / second current, the team, consisting of Jean Craven and new comers, Evan Feldman and Colin Franks, eventually managed to cross the Black Sea / Bosporus, completing their 12 km challenge in just over 4 hours.
2009: Europe to Africa
In 2009 Jean Craven and Tim Ziehl swam across the Strait of Gibraltar, crossing from Spain to Morocco in just over 4 hours. The swim accross the Strait is a well organized event. The Gibraltar swimming club, based in Tarifa Spain, organizes two support boats as well as a lead boat to guide swimmers through one of the bussiest sea lanes in the world. Jean and Tim were joined by two Russian swimmers doing a half hour by half hour relay.
All proceeds raised in the annual swimming challenges are donated to established registered children’s charities. Any amount donated will make a difference in their lives. Madswimmer.com is a registered charity, please feel free to request a tax donation certificate.
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