Posted by: jlenchner | August 22, 2009

Day Two in Tarifa

After a long and much needed sleep last night we made our way to the harbor to meet Rafael. We found him readily and he greeted us heartily. There is a Greek swimmer who has been waiting to swim for four days ahead of us. The likely day for our swim is now Wednesday, but things can change day-by-day, depending on the weather, so we will check in again with Rafael tomorrow and then every day until we swim.

A few impressions: it was absolutely great to see Philipp again after 5 years. I felt immediately comfortable with Philipp´s girlfriend, Patricia, and the three of us are having a great time together. I hope the rest of my family is doing as well in Cordova and now in Savilla. We meet up again tomorrow.

Tarifa is the windiest place I have ever experienced. I can only wonder what Cape Horn or the Cape of Good Hope are like. From our hostel the wind blows so hard it often sounds like a hurricane outside. For the two days we have been here the wind has been dead against the direction we will be swimming. Today there were white caps. Philipp and I swam for about a mile and a half or two miles. Swimming into the wind took perhaps 35 minutes and swimming with the wind about 10 minutes (times are impressions only since we did not take watches). Our speeds are quite compatible. I can still feel the sea rocking us.

Posted by: Philipp | August 22, 2009

Arrived in Tarife – first tryout in the strait

We have arrived in Tarifa yesterday. Met early morning in Malaga with Jon, then took the bus down to Tarifa. So much wind arround here that we got a little nervous in first place.

Shortly after we found our hostel for 2 nights we went down to the beach and swam a couple of metres in the ocean. It was reasonably cold. Felt like swimming in a washing machine but we are confident to get used to that. After a busy day felt to sleep for a long long 10 or 12 hours. Lets see what today brings.

Posted by: jlenchner | August 19, 2009

Espana Bound

My family and I leave for Spain tonight, arriving in Madrid tomorrow morning. We are then immediately catching a train to the south, spending the first night in Cordova. From there I head to Malaga to meet up with Philipp and get in a few days of practice swims in the vicinity of Tarifa. The rest of my family will go site-seeing in Cordova and Grenada.

On the 22nd Philipp and I meet with Rafael of ACNEG to go over logistics and meet with our support boat team. On the 23rd we meet back up with my family and get the keys to the house we have rented for a week 8 km outside of Tarifa. The 24th is our first possible swim date. The 28th and 29th mark the neap tide, or time of lowest tidal variation, which would be the ideal time to swim. However, if the weather is good, we will not wait for the neap tide.

Our next posting will be from Spain! Thanks to everyone for all of your support. If you have made a donation to Swim for Africa, the Dispatch Foundation/Elias Fund thank-you as well.

Posted by: jlenchner | August 13, 2009

One Week to Go

One week before Philipp and Jon meet up in Malaga, Spain on the Costa del Sol. Youssef has just arrived in Casablanca and is enjoying time with his family before heading up north. The water temperature in Tarifa right now is warmer than the seasonal average: 70 F (21 C) while the seasonal average is 65-68 F (18.5-20 C) – we hope it will stay that way! It has been very windy however: today (August 13th) the wind is blowing at 28 knots (or just over 30 MPH) which puts us at 7 on the Beaufort scale. I guess that is why Tarifa is considered the windsurfing capital of the world! Click here for the latest Tarifa weather conditions in English, or German.

The map below shows a closeup of the area where we will be swimming:

Closeup of the swim from Tarifa

Closeup of the swim from Tarifa

The idea is to swim due south and get carried by the current eastward, hopefully hitting one of the prominences of land that you see below.  At some point during the swim we will have a nice view of the Rock of Gibraltar which is the spit of land “around the horn” from Tarifa to the northeast.

Posted by: jlenchner | August 6, 2009

Swim Dates Quickly Approaching

The beginning of our swim window, which runs from August 24th to September 6th, is quickly approaching. Youssef leaves for Morocco in just three days. Jon and Phillipp each fly into Spain – Jon on the 20th and Philipp on the 21st. Philipp recently competed in a 24 hour swim competition, completing an amazing 38.5 kilometers (23.9 miles)!! He has been very sore and swimming considerably more modest distances since. Jon has reached the peak of his training and is slowly tapering. We have been getting behind the scenes coaching from our good friend Mark Lough, who gives us good tips on training and other aspects of preparation.

The year of hard work is mostly behind us and with so little time remaining we are nervous and excited about the adventure that lies ahead!

Posted by: Philipp | June 23, 2009

Cold Water Training

We are currently pushing the training quite hard. Jon completes really long distances while I focus on improving stroke technique and power. We have both started doing cold water swims, Jon in his lake at home and I in the kids pool that is not heated and thx to the bad weather stays at temperatures around 19 C ( 66 F). It is really freezing in such a cold water so we are both wondering about how to stay in there for about 5 hours.

I will try an attemp on the weekend to swim a longer distance in a local lake at 20 C and hope to stay in as long as I can.

Posted by: jlenchner | June 19, 2009

Penny & Chris Palfrey’s Swim Across the Strait

Check out the interesting account of Penny and Chris Palfrey’s swim across the Strait in June 2006. Penny was the top woman finisher in the recently completed Manhatten Island Marathon Swim. She is also one of the most famous long distance open water swimmers (male or female) of all time.

Posted by: jlenchner | May 27, 2009

Tarifa Arrangements

We have each now made our flight reservations and have just wired money to secure a house that we will be renting 8 km from the beach in Tarifa, Spain for the first week of our stay. Since we will be attempting the swim on the first clear day in our window of August 24th-September 6th, it is hard to know exactly how long we will be staying in Spain. We have decided to commit to at least one week to save a bit of money and avoid having to spend money day by day in hotels. Following the swim we are looking forward to spending time in Morocco and visiting with Youssef’s family. Lots of training between now and then though!

Posted by: Philipp | May 8, 2009

Another 24h Swim

As preparations go on I will do another 24h swim starting this afternoon. The link is here. My goal is not to swim a very long distance in total but rather to have a long time in the water in one peace. So I will try and do 8k splits or so which should give me 2,5 hours water time each. Maybe I can even do a 3hour split, I will see. I plan to start swimming at 6 pm and leave at 4 am in the morning. Thats 10 hours, I recon I can do 20 – 25 k. That should be enough, having the triathlon in mind that comes up on Sunday 😉

Keep training,

Posted by: jlenchner | April 4, 2009

Boat Reservation

We have just wired a 25% deposit to reserve the boat that will accomany us across the Strait. Just like for English Channel swims, an official observer will accompany us to verify that we swim in accordance with all rules (e.g. no wet suits or other floatation devices and that we do not come in contact with the main guide boat or the smaller boats which will give us food during the swim). In the last couple of weeks we have been in regular contact with Rafael Gutierrez Messa, president of ACNEG, the Strait of Gibraltar Swimming Association, and the logistics of the swim are coming together nicely!


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