Man attempts to swim Baltic

  • 2007-07-23
  • By Mike Collier
KALMAR 's A Lithuanian triathlete has taken to the waters of the Baltic Sea in a bid to draw attention to problems of pollution and environmental damage.

Endurance swimmer Vidmantas Urbonas launched his bid to swim across the Baltic July 22, starting from Kalmar in Sweden and headed ultimately for the coast of Latvia near Pavilosta, more than 200 kilometers away. Urbonas said he intended to complete the journey in stages, but that the exact duration of marathon swim would be dictated by prevailing weather conditions and could last for up to 8 days.

He completed the first stage, a modest 7 kilometer swim to the island of Eland in just over two hours.

"The first day was good, and I will make it," he told waiting media. "A lot depends on tomorrow's 57-kilometer swim to Gotland. It is the most precarious place in the entire Baltic Sea, as two strong currents cross there."

Even in July, the Baltic's waters are less than balmy, so the swimmer wears a wetsuit and special lotions to retain body heat. A support boat containing members of his family is on hand to offer encouragement and food and drink.

The voyage is dedicated to increasing environmental awareness. "I want to draw the public attention to the future of the Baltic Sea," Urbonas said.

Swimming for the environment has become a fairly common occurrence of late. Just a few days ago Briton Lewis Gordon Pugh swam in Arctic waters without a wetsuit to draw attention to climate change and Slovenian swimmer Martin Strel has become famous for swimming the lengths of the Amazon Yangtze, Mississippi and Danube rivers.