Slovenia's Martin Strel conquers Yangtze River


On June 10th, 2004, Martin Strel started swimming down the Yangtze river, the longest river in Asia, the third longest in the world. He reached Shanghai in 40 days on July 30th, 2004, one day before planned, and so managed to conquer over 4,000 km of this mighty river. Quite a number of people deemed his latest project impossible and for many it was beyond comprehension.

The finish was the place where the river meets the sea, just 50 km away from Shanghai. Martin Strel covered most of the world's third longest river and broke his own 2002 Guinness record from the Mississippi, which is 3797 km long. No wonder he was glad that it was all over:

"I feel good and I am glad that it is over, because the Yangtze River is almost too much for me but we succeeded in the end"

After accomplishing the feat of his lifetime, Strel is now taking some time off and trying to regain strength. He has been having problems because of exhaustion and medical treatment due to fever and exhaustion was more then necessary.

He admits he had to fight hard to conquer the river:

"As I've said several times the Yangtze River is too powerful it is a much too strong river for ventures of this kind. I would not have done it, had I known earlier but once we started and things went well, we surpassed our limits and finished our venture. We were lucky, it could have ended in a tragedy, there were some dangerous moments, but I managed to swim the whole length of the river and reached the finish."

But this will not be his first entry into the Guinness book of records. In 2000 Strel swam the length of the Danube. This was his first achievement to get him a mention in the Guinness Book of Records. In 2001 Strel managed to break yet another world record on the Danube. This was the record for non-stop swimming. By covering 504 km in 84 hrs and 10 min, he set the new world record in long-distance swimming in July 2001.

He was also the first to cover the whole length of the Mississippi River from its source in Minnesota to its outlet in The Gulf Of Mexico.

During his swims, he sleeps for 5 hours each day and he prepares himself for swimming over a year and a half. It usually takes a few months for Strel to recover fully from the strenous swimming. Martin Strel and part of his team arrived in Slovenia on Wednesday 4th August and they received a warm welcome. In honour of his success there was also special ceremony where Martin Strel was presented a special award for his achievement.