PRETORIA, July 22 (Itar-Tass) - Over fifty swimmers from different countries, including five South African ones, are planning to cross the Bering Strait from the Russian coast to Alaska.
The start is scheduled for August 1. The shortest distance from the Russian coast to Alaska is 82 kilometers, but the swimmers think that because of the currents they will have to actually cross 110 kilometres in 48 hours. The temperature of the water is 4 degrees Celsius. The athletes will be wearing swimming suits, caps and goggles. They will swim for 15-20 minutes, then rest and go back into water in about ten hours. Swimming in cold water is a big challenge and if someone gives in, the others will have make up for them.
Apart from the perseverance test, there are bureaucratic barriers to be crossed in both Russia and the United States. So far, all attempts to cross the strait by foot, boat or kayak have proved futile.
The Bering Strait is often referred to as the “ice curtain” between Russia and the U.S. as it is covered with ice for the biggest part of year. A window of opportunity for such a daring race, fraught with hypothermia and dangerous encounters with whales, presents itself only in summer.