Posted by: Philipp | August 27, 2009

It’s done !!!

Now, where to start ? I guess I ll just write a little note about our sucessfull attemp to cross the strait and leave all the poetic stuff to Jon on a later article. So here is what I think sums it up very quickly.

We got to the harbor at about 11 o clock when we were told that Rafael wouldnt show up that day. We met with the skipper and found out that it was going to be pretty windy out there and we probably couldnt start before 1 o clock. So waiting was on. When we finally got on the boat I didnt know what to expect from that swim. I couldnt tell how far 16k in the ocean would be and what else would happen. It was so rough that we barely could touch land on the spanish side before starting our swim. Then all went quite quickly. The skipper took a photo of us and we started. The pace was ok, but the waves were shaking us like a washing machine. We made good progress for the first 2 hours and thought all will be good. The water was nice and warm for me, even without a wetsuit (19 C), but freezingly cold for Jon. Then the skipper came towards us and said we need more speed. I thought we were going quite fast already but obviously not. I didnt know why we would need to go faster and that made me feel nervous. Apperantly the current had picked up and became massive, it was going to take us down all the way to cyprus or greece if we didnt speed up. At that time we missed our landing point and the skipper choose a different landing point farther east. That time I was feeling mentally down. I swam in Jons slipstream to make it easier to navigate coz the waves were so high that I barely could see the guiding boat. I thought, if I am gonna miss his feet once I would have to drop off and give up. Jon put up an incredible speed. I kept swallowing salt water coz I breathed into the direction of the waves. For about an hour Jon would go crazy in the water and just push it really hard. We stopped drinking and eating coz we thought we couldnt stop or otherwise it would take us to far down. By that time we had totally missed our original landing point and the skipper headed for Ceuta which is the last possible landing point before hitting the wide open of the mediteranien sea.

Land came closer and for the first time I thought we could do it. I was wondering if we could slow down a bit and take it easy then. But the guy on the feeding boat was urging us to more speed and Jon was getting cold so we kept it up. Jon swam ahead of me and I didnt manage to stay in his slip stream. We were about 1 mile to the shore when I thought all would be good. However a strong current would come against us taking us out into the strait again. I would swim there and not making any progress (Wait for the movies). Patricia told me to pull myself together and give it one more go. That was the longest kilometer I ever swam.

I could make up the houses on the shore and we kept pushing it, and then I saw the ground beneath me. Fish were swimming under me and at that point all went very good. I enjoyed the last couple of metres and headed for a stone wall. When I cleared the water a guy with a mashine gun would say something in spanish to me and the skipper was urging me to come back to the boat. We landed at the border between morocco and the spanish enclave of Ceuta, directly at the boarder fence with all the guards. The spanish military thought we were moroccans trying to enter spain by swimming …

I jumped on the boat, Jon was already there. We congratulated each other and I started to feel way better. On our way back we saw dolphins all over the place. It took us almost two hours to go all the way back by boat.

That swim was definitely the toughest thing I have been through mentally. Physically I wasnt to exhausted, it just blew me up in my head. Much more difficult to focus on than finishing an Ironman.

We feel great today. Will get a haircut today and have some cervecas … Well that wasnt short at all, but worth a few words.




  1. Congratulations to you both – a hard earned and well deserved accomplishment.
    Best regards,
    Paul, Fritzi and Craig

  2. That is so awesome. Congratulations.

  3. Thanks for keeping us up to date!

  4. Congrats! What an accomplishment…physically and mentally. Bet those post-swim beers were great!

  5. Congratulations to Phillipp and Jon. I’m very impressed that you made it!! I enjoyed reading Phillipp’s account, and look forward to hearing Jon’s side of the story. Jon, I hope you have some good pictures or some video to show us when you return to New York.

  6. Jon and Philipp, muchas felicidades! Lo que es un gran logro! ¿Qué hará usted para hacer un bis? Nadar a través del estrecho de Bering?

    • Rajarshi, thanks for your comment. I figurred out as much as “congrats, whats up next, bering street ?” Thats as far as my spanish goes. Well, I will probably focus on triathlon next year while Jon might as well be swimming the next big thing but I ll let him comment on that.

      Maybe in the year after next there will be a bigger swim for both of us, but we will see.


    • Hi Raja – my Spanish is even worse than Philipp’s but I did understand the muchas felicidades part – and thank-you! Philipp and Patricia are expecting their first baby in January and then Philipp is going to focus on quaifying for the Ironman World Championships – enough for one year I think! As for me, I am already feeling the emptiness of not having this grand project in front of me so doubtless there will be something – I will let you know!

  7. Hi Philipp,

    Glückwunsch für diese Leistung an euch beide. Freut mich für Dich das Du das so gut hinter Dich gebracht hast. Dann bist Du jetzt ja mental schonmal auf dein nächstes Abenteuer vorbereitet das sicher nicht weniger tough wird 😉

    Grüße und Daumen hoch

    Nadja, Linus und Georg

    • Krass Krass Krass, herzlichsten Glueckwunsch Alterchen !!! Das ging dann ja doch schneller als erwartet. Ich bin gespannt auf die ersten Bilder und vor allem auf den Tag an dem er dich zum ersten mal am Alb Anstieg abzieht (einbeinig) !

      Muchos Gruessos aus Malaga!
      Patricia und Philipp

  8. Hallo Philipp,

    du bist ja gut drauf. Glückwunsch.
    Karl würde jetzt angeben und sagen
    guck mit dem bin ich schon Rad gefahren 🙂 Evtl klappts ja noch mit
    einer Herbstrunde im Schwarzwald.



    • Hi Roland, Danke! Ich hoffe doch. Ich muss Dir mein neues Fahrrad ja noch vorstellen. Vielleicht hab ich ja damit ne Chance 🙂

  9. Hi Roland !
    Wow ich staune nur, Riesenleistung – ganz herzlichen Glückwunsch. Ich bin wirklich gespannt, was nu in den kommenden Jahrzehnten noch alles angehen wirst ! Die Ausdauerleistung nimmt bei Dir ja noch lange zu. Da wäre ich zugerne nochmals so jung wie du. Und noch mehr freut es mich, daß es bei Euch Nachwuchs gibt. Ganz liebe Grüße an deine Patricia !

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