Tuesday, December 10th, 2019

Extreme swimmer tackles Balearic island challenge

Published on September 11, 2014 by   ·   No Comments

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We’ve written about round the island swim challenges before, most notably superhuman Anna Wardley who tackled five of them in 2012/2013, but this is the first time we’ve written about swimming the entire 360km coastline of Mallorca – largely because it’s thought to be the first time anyone’s attempted it.  And Richard Krugel is going to be that pioneer.

37-year-old Richard, from South Africa, intends to swim the Mediterranean island in stages across a three-week period in September, and in the process earn plenty of money for the Allen Graham Kids Charity which runs 27 residential care homes for children on the Island.

Richard explains, “Like many adventurous youngsters, I worked in Mallorca’s superyacht industry, but this was more than ten years ago as I now live back in South Africa in Cape Town.  I returned because my only younger brother tragically lost his life.  I was told the devastating news on my way back from work and, as I couldn’t get a flight out of Mallorca that same day, my friends took me to a quiet beach in Mallorca to try and help console me.  For some reason I went swimming in the sea and suddenly had the idea that I would come back one day and swim Mallorca in remembrance of my brother.  This was how the idea was born, and 11 years later I am here to complete the mission.”

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Thankfully Richard is no stranger to ‘extreme’ swimming.  He first learnt how to swim at the age of four and then went off to compete at national and international level for South Africa.  After school, he joined the South African Navy and qualified as a special operations navy diver, before quitting to travel.  He ended up on superyachts in Fort Lauderdale, Antibes and then Mallorca, where he fell in love with the Island and decided to stay – until the horrific events of 4 July 2003.

Since his return home, Richard has regularly competed in Open Water Swimming and Extreme Swimming.  The Atlantic is very cold around Cape Town, averaging between 11 and 15 degrees Celsius, and Richard has not only swum the Robben Island Open Water Event, considered to be one of the toughest in the world (no wetsuit allowed) but he has also swum the Speedo Ice Swim event in the coldest water in Africa, below 5 degrees Celsius.  We can only imagine the discomfort in those Speedos…  Ironically, this means that Richard has had to train in warmer waters to acclimatise himself in readiness for the relatively balmy Med around Mallorca.

“I currently swim six days a week, up to 35 or 50km a week, using carefully-planned swimming programmes,” says Richard.  “I have enlisted the services of an Open Water swimming coach who has helped many South African swimmers complete challenges like the English Channel and Bering Strait.  As Mallorca has never been tackled before, we’ll work together to see how my body reacts to swimming long distances on a daily basis for an extended period of time.”

Richard plans to set off sometime between 15 and 20 September and, starting from capital Palma, head in an anticlockwise direction.  He should enjoy the best sea conditions of the year – calm and flat.  With the entire 360km distance impossible to swallow in one go, he’ll be swimming in stages, roughly 10km in the morning and 10km in the afternoon, and has asked the World Open Water Swimming Association (WOWSA) to sanction, and therefore recognise, the event as an official attempt.

Richard finishes, “WOWSA and the Spanish Maritime Authorities require that I have a boat accompany me all the way, for visibility to other vessels and my own safety.  I will also have a land-based crew that will follow me by car to all my stop-off beaches.  At no time am I allowed to be assisted by the boat, and I must only swim in Speedos, goggles and a cap.  If all goes well, I should finish around 18 to 21 days from the start.”

We wish Richard all the best and hope that he relives happy memories of his brother while soaking up the scenery and raising plenty of funds for www.agrahamcharity.org.  Please follow progress on https://www.facebook.com/palmademallorca360.

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