World record – Straits of Gibraltar
I did it; I swam through the Straits of Gibraltar in 2 hours, 53 minutes.
The week before, I was at a training camp in Tenerife in order to acclimatise myself under similar conditions.
I was accompanied by Adam Walker, who helped me work on my technique and provided mental motivation.
It is incredibly important for me to be mentally strong. After all, there are always points when you wonder whether or not you can keep going.
I felt great in training and was happy to fly to Tarifa. On Friday 22 April, the big day had arrived.
My swim was planned for Sunday, but when we drove to Rafael’s (the organiser) on Friday afternoon in order to discuss the route and other things, we were told that we would be starting out the next morning at 10 a.m. The weather on Sunday was supposed to be so bad that it wouldn’t have been possible to make the crossing that day.
I was ready, feeling great, and hoped that I might see a dolphin that might accompany me for a while. Afterwards, I went for a warm-up swim with Adam and then we went into town for dinner. I wanted to get to bed early so I would be in top form. I had pasta, as usual!
My father arrived in Tarifa the same evening. He comes to every major swim and has done so ever since I started out. Now I was really ready to get going.
Just before 7 a.m., I went for breakfast to make sure I ate enough early on.
Then I went through everything one more time with Adam. He said that I had trained hard enough and that I just had to concentrate on my swim and enjoy myself.
I put my headphones on and we drove to the port, where the boats were already waiting for us. I got ready, listened to one last song and summoned all my focus. My crew wished me good luck and off I went.
When someone makes a crossing in Gibraltar, there are two support boats – one larger one and a faster dinghy. The dinghy travels right alongside the swimmer and the larger boat indicates the course. Off we went! I jumped into the water, which was cool at 15 °C, and swam to the rock where I was to start. I heard the starting shot and off I swam. I was making good progress and quickly left the strong coastal currents behind me. The first hour went by and someone passed me my first energy drink. Adam and my father cheered me on, right from the start. It’s very important to me to have this support because it’s the only thing you’re aware of when you’re in the water. I felt great and quickly found my rhythm. The sun was shining and reflecting off the water – it was a beautiful moment. My crew even spotted a whale and some dolphins. The next hour went by and I got my next drink. I didn’t know how long I had to go because I had said I didn’t want to be told. I didn’t want to know whether I still had one or three hours left. That wouldn’t have helped me, and would just have made me think that I had a long swim still ahead of me. Another hour went and I was given a sponge cake. That’s my favourite thing to eat when swimming. I only ever take the energy gels and bars when I absolutely have to. Adam told me I should sprint. I didn’t ask why and thought it was because of a current, so I sprinted. I saw that Adam and my father were looking at something on the stopwatch. It seemed as if I were swimming on the spot and the last 20 minutes were so exhausting that I wondered how long I would be able to keep the pace up. I suddenly heard whistles from the boat and couldn’t believe my eyes when I suddenly saw rocks appear underneath me. I had made it and was just happy to have arrived. I swam back to the boat and it was then that I realised I was the fastest woman to have ever swum this stretch.