Three Countries Lake Constance Swim
As soon as Nathalie Pohl had crossed the Straits of Gibraltar, the narrow stretch of sea separating Europe and Africa, in record time, she went on to achieve her next challenge. On 1 July, she swam the Three Countries Lake Constance challenge in the record time of 9 hours and 19 minutes. “Lake Constance and I – we’re just a good match. It was a fantastic day! The water here brought me luck two years ago and now I’m very proud that everything worked out so well today,” the sportswoman said. The 21-year-old completed the 35-kilometre stretch from Lindau in Germany to the Austrian shore at Bregenz via Rorschach in Switzerland without even needing a wetsuit, despite temperature variations of up to 10 °C in the water that are partly due to the icy inflow of the River Rhine.
Read on for Nathalie’s own account:
Three countries in one day!
I was back at Lake Constance again, ready to swim another stretch.
This time, it was the Three Countries Swim, so I started in Lindau before swimming to Switzerland (Rorschach) and then on to Austria (Bregenz). This swim was longer than the cross-lake swim I had done two years before. This time, I swam 36 km. It was completely different from last time because the weather was rather unseasonal and it rained the whole time. I even had to delay my swim by two weeks because the risk of storms and lots of other things, like driftwood and high water levels, made swimming impossible.
I arrived in Lindau on Thursday at midday. I went into the town to go and eat pasta again. Then I had a little walk through the town and met up with Adam afterwards. I spoke to him for a while and decided not to do a warm-up swim that day.
In the evening, I went for a massage and then we went out to eat. It started to rain and there was a thunderstorm. After our meal, I looked at the boats that would accompany me the following day. I went to bed at 8 p.m.
On Friday morning, my alarm clock went off at 4.30 a.m. Next up was the thing I like least before a swim: breakfast! I forced myself to eat four slices of toast. Breakfast is extremely important because otherwise the energy drinks you consume while swimming can make you feel very sick.
Then I went out and focussed on the day ahead. I was quite nervous because the distance was about as long as that of the English Channel. However, I knew that I was well prepared and that I would be able to do it. At the designated start time, the weather was still pretty bad and the water was choppy. But we decided to go ahead anyway.
There were two boats – my father and Adam were on the smaller of the two. Everyone else in the team that makes such a swim possible was on the larger boat, which traces the route.
I set off just after 7 a.m. and swam at a pace that seemed quite tough. But I knew that if I swam too quickly to start with, I might have a drop in performance later on. So I arrived in Switzerland at an even pace. I was doing well and felt very good. Just before the stop-off point, Adam joined me in the water to motivate me a bit. We swam next to each other for a while until I had to get out of the water in Rorschach. I went up a small set of steps so that I was completely out of the water – as per the rules. But I had to get going again straight away because taking a longer break would be bad for the circulation.
The hours went by and I finally came to the inflow of the River Rhine. I briefly thought my heart would stop when the water temperature dropped from 20 °C to below 10 °C!
It was soon over though, thankfully, and a few more hours passed before the finish finally came into view.
Shortly after the Rhine inlet, I was struggling with shoulder pain that got worse and worse until the finish. My arms were absolutely exhausted and I was over the moon that I had nearly reached my destination.
In 9 hours and 19 minutes, and a new record time, I had arrived!
It was an unbelievably tough swim and one that I won’t forget in a hurry!
I would like to thank my team and everyone who thought of me.