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… He was blessed with fi ne weather, but swam through plenty of jellyfi sh

Swiss swimmer Bruno Baumgartner broke the record time for the Fehman Strait, with a time of 4 hours 53 minutes in August this year…

As if that wasn’t enough, towards the end of his swim, Fiedeldeij then faced the Danish coastal current, which was travelling at around 7 knots (4km/hour) and pushing him back out to sea. The Beltquerung is also a major shipping lane, so like the Channel

and Tsugaru Strait, you oſt en get large shipping tankers which the swimmer's pilot needs to deal with. Temperatures during the summer season are similar to the English Channel, at 16-17C. Giles Meyer, the current president of the south London Swimming Club, based at Tooting Bec Lido, completed the crossing in under fi ve hours in 2009. Meyer says: “I ended up swimming from the town of Put garden on the German side. My initial reaction when I started swimming was the strange taste of the water. I couldn’t work out if there was a high salt content or something else? On heading out from shore, I encountered the fi rst batch of jelly fi sh, which although they didn’t sting were particularly big and hard to avoid knocking into.” Fiedeldeij explains his motivation to tackle the swim. “I am Northern European and also share a Fresian heritage with the local people in this area, which made this swim culturally important for me.” He had a second reason for taking on the challenge – an account he read of Axel Mitbauer, an East German national swimmer who in 1969 swam from East to West Germany to escape the communist regime of the DDR. Aſt er swimming at night he was found the next morning by a trawler boat clinging to a buoy in West German waters near to the island of Fehmarn. Fiedeldeij says: “I found it incredibly courageous that this man swam out to sea in the middle of the night with no safety support just to escape to a bet er life.” Fiedeldeij met Mitbauer in Basel, Switzerland, where he moved to aſt er his escape, and where he has lived ever since.

All crossings are ratifi ed by Jens Glasser at Jog Promotions.

In fact, Meyer's swim wasn’t offi cially recognised, as he hadn’t registered with Glasser for his crossing. Hence the offi cial record of 5 hours and 11 minutes was held until recently by the great German swimmer Christof Wandratsch, who is a previous English Channel record holder (seven hours 3 minutes!). However the Swiss swimmer Bruno Baumgartner broke Wandratsch’s world record in a time of 4 hours 53 minutes in August this year. The faster crossings have all benefi ted from having a decent southerly wind (in the case of going from Germany-Denmark), helping blow the swimmer across. The swims start to slow up considerably if the wind direction changes. Fiedeldeij fi nishes by saying why this swim is ideal for British open water swimmers: “The village I started swimming from is called Put garden, which sounds very English because this area of northern Germany and Denmark was roamed by the Germanic tribe of the Anglos, who aſt er the Migration Period set led in the British Isles. This common history between modern Germany and modern Britain is neglected or unknown to most people. So swimming there would be very historic for British people. But luckily the water is not nationalistic!” ○

Simon Murie is the founder of SwimTrek (, the leading provider of open water swimming and coaching camps in the UK and overseas. He is a qualifi ed swim coach and an experienced swimmer with a solo crossing of the English Channel and other big swims to his name. He is passionate about introducing people to the joys of open water swimming and to fi nding new swims.


Photo © Frank Wechsel

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