The Human Fish

Martin Strel, a 52 year old native and resident of Slovakia, is attempting to swim where most people wouldn’t dream of swimming: the Amazon, the world’s longest river.

The fact that the Amazon is infected with alligators, snakes, anacondas, and piranhas makes some people think that Strel has lost his mind. It is a wonder: how does he plan to accomplish this dangerous feat? If he successfully swims the entire 3,745 miles of the Amazon, Strel will be the first be the first person to cover these waters.

Fortunately, Strel is a professional marathon swimmer and no newcomer to stroking his way through long distances. Over the past seven years, Strel has swum 1,867 miles of the Danube, 2,359 miles of the Mississippi, and 2,487 miles of the Yangtze.

Strel dedicates his swim to the protection of the rain forest and finding the cure to Alzheimer’s. “My slogan is swimming for peace, but also achieving the impossible. It’s a big risk for me, but every day I get messages from around the world telling me, ‘Martin, you are the right man for this. We wish you the best luck.’ ”

Strel’s social objectives are admirable, yet, are the life threatening challenges that Strel will endure worth risking his life? The Amazon compares to no other river he has yet explored. Beyond the dangerous creatures lurking in the waters, Strel needs to evade torrential rains, whirlpools, tidal bores, waterborne diseases, and several candiru, needle-like fish that feeds on blood and tissue.

Strel is an extreme adventurer but he still wants to be as safe as he can. Along with him, he is taking “a support boat with doctors and scientists on hand to regularly check his health, administer emergency aid, and toss buckets of chum into the river to distract swarming schools of piranhas. This should allow Strel to focus on what he does best—swim an incredible distance down the world’s great waterways.”

Strel’s journey began on February 1 from Atalaya, Peru. Given he doesn’t get eaten alive by the Amazon, Strel estimates he will arrive to Belém, Brazil in approximately 70 days.

Source: Ryan Bradley