Over the last year I have read two books on extreme achievements that stick out in my mind, and both revolve around the Amazon. Paddle to the Amazon, by Don Starkell & Amazon Extreme, by Colin Angus & Ian Mulgrew tell true stories about unbelievable travels and achieving the unimaginable.
Paddle to the Amazon documents extreme adventure pioneer Don and his sons as they travel from Winnipeg to Brazil in a canoe in 1980. Yes, that is Winnipeg, Canada. Yes, that's over 12,000 miles and two years worth of canoeing. "With minimal supplies, depending on their wits and the good will of strangers", Don has no sponsor and risks his life (and his son's) to achieve his dream. Afterwards, Don canoed the Arctic, among other places.
Amazon Extreme is no less an amazing book, as three guys substitute two years worth of canoeing with five months of white-water rafting from the beginning to the end of the Amazon. In typical To-The-Extreme MTV Generation fashion, without sponsors, with limited planning, an underfunded, undersupplied and unprepared journey was successful. Even though they almost died hiking to get to the river before they even started. Guys, especially extreme guys, don't ask for directions.
Now what if any of these guys decided to ditch their boat and just swim?
That would be insane.
Meet Martin Strel.
According to Martin, "As a young boy, I was beaten a lot by my parents and schoolmasters. This no doubt contributed greatly to my ability to ignore pain and endure..." Evidently this included numerous blows to the head. He has decided to swim the Amazon, from the start near a mountain in Peru to the finish on the coast of Brazil.
Not that this impossible. If a piranah can do it, why not Martin? He has millions in funding. He swam the Danube river twice, the Mississippi river, the Parana river from Iguazzu Falls to the Rio de la Plata, and recently the toxic, multicoloured Yangtze river in China. After swimming the biohazard that is Yangtze, he probably has superpowers and webbed feet.
Swimmer Martin Strel has dedicated this swim to the preservation of the rainforest, to raising awareness for Alzheimer's disease and other neurodegenerative disorders, and to promoting telemedicine as a valuable tool in bringing modern medicine to remote areas
It is for some great causes, he has tons of sponsorship, lots of world records and Jacques Cousteau's old boat tagging along. He's gotta do it.
His swim starts February 1st, 2007. Find out more on his web site.