After momentous weekend for Czech Channel swimming, women's record holder plans to go for absolute best time

09-08-2006

Last weekend was a momentous one for Czech long-distance swimming: Yvetta Hlavacova set a new women's world record for swimming the English Channel, while David Cech became the first Czech to swim the Channel in both directions. While Cech has been enjoying his success, Hlavacova has surprised many by saying she wants to brave the Channel again in just a few weeks' time.

Yvetta Hlavacova, photo: CTKYvetta Hlavacova, photo: CTK Yvetta Hlavacova entered the record books on Sunday afternoon, when - swimming from England to France - she set a new women's world record of seven hours, twenty-five minutes and fifteen seconds.

The 31-year-old from the Moravian town of Boskovice beat the previous women's record, which had stood for 28 years, by a quarter of an hour.

But that achievement wasn't enough for the 182-cm tall blonde, who immediately set off in the other, harder direction, in an attempt to set another world record - for swimming both ways. She battled hard but eventually succumbed to exhaustion, after spending 14 hours in the water and swimming 60 kilometres.

Speaking in Prague on her return, Yvetta Hlavacova described her experience as "hell", but said after a couple of nights sleep she was full of energy once more.

David Cech, photo: CTKDavid Cech, photo: CTK And she surprised many by saying she wants to return to the Channel again at the start of September - in order to have another go at the absolute Dover to Calais record of seven hours and three minutes; it was set by a German man called Christof Wandratsch last year.

But Hlavacova wasn't the only Czech setting records at the weekend. Twenty-year-old David Cech became the first Czech ever to swim the English Channel both ways, a feat he completed two years to the day after his first, one-way Channel crossing. In 2004 - at 18, and with just four years experience as a swimmer - he became the first Czech to swim the Channel in less than ten hours.

This time out Cech spent almost 20 hours in the water, swimming an incredible 80 kilometres. He studies construction at university in Brno and said his biggest problem was raising funds. In order to save some cash, David Cech spent the three weeks before the swim sleeping in a tent, waiting for the right conditions.

The first Czech to swim La Manche was the late Frantisek Venclovsky, who swam from France to England in 1971; his time was fifteen hours twenty-six minutes. In 1975 Venclovsky went the other way, in a time of thirteen hours and forty-two minutes. Since then 11 other Czechs have completed this most gruelling of challenges.

09-08-2006

Choose Karel Gott´s greatest hit (More)