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CLASSIC SWIMS FEHMARN STRAIT


Between Hamburg in Germany and Copenhagen in Denmark lies the Fehmarn Strait, an 11.5-mile stretch of water that is growing in popularity with marathon swimmers…





Equidistant between Hamburg in Germany and Copenhagen in Denmark, lies the Fehmarn Strait, in the middle of the


Baltic Sea. This stretch of water divides the German Island of Fehmarn from the Danish Island of Lolland. These lands witnessed the migration of the Anglo-Saxons, who invaded the British Isles during the 5th Century. This crossing is known in German as 'Beltquerung' (literally, 'crossing of the Strait'). It was fi rst swum in 1939 by German swimmer, Karl-Heinz Rauert, in just under 12 hours. There was to be a 60-year gap before anyone else successfully swum it. To date, 15 hardy souls have offi cially swam the Beltquerung, the majority of whom are from German speaking countries. The re-emergence of the swim in lat er years is largely down to Jens Glaesser, whose parents lived on Fehmarn, and who in 1998 reinvigorated the swim.


TO DATE, JUST 15 PEOPLE HAVE OFFICIALLY SWAM THE BELTQUERUNG, MOST OF WHOM ARE GERMAN SPEAKERS


CHALLENGE


Glaesser says: “It was when I was sit ing on a support boat during an English Channel crossing that I realised there was a signifi cant swim on my parents’ doorstep that could be a good test for an open water swimmer.” Although it’s a relatively short swim, Glaesser says it has a sting in the tail – namely, the unpredictability of the tides. “In the Channel you can plan your swim using tide tables, as the tides are relatively predictable. However, because tidal movements in the Baltic are small, the currents are more wind-generated and hence harder to predict. Add to that the fact there are generally three forms of current on any crossing – one on each coast and one mid-crossing – and you’ve got a crossing that can often be very unpredictable.” Glaesser adds: “This year the Austrian swimmer Sale Savuljeskovic spent over 2½ hours not progressing across due to the local tidal conditions that were found in the middle of the crossing.” Hans-Georg Fiedeldeij, a Dutch swimmer now living in Switzerland, who completed the crossing last year, remembers vividly the intensity of the three opposing currents. He says: “I was literally being tossed around – it was like being in


a washing machine, because the German and mid-channel currents collided with each other during the middle of my crossing. It was very tough.”


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FEHMARN STRAIT ○ Water type: Salt ○ Water temperature: 16-17°C ○ Distance: 18.5km ○ Issues: Unpredictable local currents and weather ○ More info: beltquerung.de ○ Diffi culty ranking: ○ Iconic ranking:


Baltic


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