July 12 – My team and I set off to cross the Sound from Elsinore in Denmark to Helsingborg in Sweden.
As tradition dictates, I got up around 4 am in order to get ready and meet my team at the harbour at around 5.30 am. This year Dennis, Thomas, Alette and Lærke joined me on my swim. On the safety boat we were escorted by Niko, a top professional pilot Dennis and I met during last year’s crossing, as well as Martin, Uffe and Britta as a brilliant feeding and cheering squad.
The weather conditions were perfect – no current, no wind, slightly cloudy. We had a quiet and smooth crossing, with Lærke flopping around like a dolphin. Anywhere we looked, there she was – forward, backward, across, freestyle, breaststroke, backstroke or even 700 m fly, you name it! The poor thing would do anything to keep herself warm! 🙂 Compared to her, the rest of us were mere logs in the water. Seeing her circling around like a mermaid on a casual morning swim was an inspiration to us all. My theory is Lærke was born and raised in the water. Only to venture onto land when she needs to stretch her legs… and win the IronMan World Championships in Hawaii. Danish dolphins do it better!
We had a dream of a swim and made it in a classical S-shape – around 5.5-6 km. We came quickly across the shipping lane and soon we could see the bottom underneath us. I’ll admit I shed a tear. As soon as I could see the bottom, I knew we’d make it all the way to the shore. As opposed to last year, there was no current to challenge us as we approached the surf zone. So it was all about patience. We were all overexcited as we finally stood up on the beach. We had no champagne with us, so we had to improvise and took a quick pee on the Swedish sand instead. Achievements must be marked in one way or another. 😉
Back on the Danish shore, our friends and families were waiting for us, getting regular updates from our boat crew. Thankfully the sun came out as we enjoyed a gorgeous brunch on the beach in the world’s best company. We had done it!
July 19 – I crossed the Sound between the Swedish Island of Ven and Rungsted harbour in Denmark. Surprisingly I made the 10 km crossing in a pretty straight line despite the rough water conditions during the first half of the swim. This shows how crucial a part your pilot plays in your swim!
Apart from the water temperature hovering around a balmy 16 °C, the conditions as we set off were far from perfect. The water was quite choppy because of the wind. The current was not very strong, but I had to swim right up against it and the wind.
But I felt ready for the challenge. We knew we had a very short window for the swim with the best weather predicted between 10 and 12 am. So I decided to set off to a solid start, doing my best to get as far as possible against the wind and the current. I focused on my kicking and my balance. I made sure to stay calm and prolong my breathing in order to avoid breaking the water too often. Technique is crucial when you must stand up to Mother Nature. Thank Neptune I’d practised it all a zillion times before!
On the safety boat I was escorted by our pilot Thomas as well as Uffe, Martin and freelance photographer Stine. Dennis started the swim with me but chose to clamber back on the boat after some time as he couldn’t get rid of his frustrations due to the weather conditions. A most difficult but most noble decision! It takes guts to let yourself get pulled out of the water in the middle of a challenge. Respect!
I wouldn’t be honest if I said it didn’t make me lose my composure a little bit when I found myself left all alone in the choppy water. But I quickly shoved those thoughts away and focused on my mission – getting all the way to the Danish shore. I’ll be alone anyway when I cross the Fehmarn Belt and the English Channel next year, so I might as well get used to it now.
As far as the race was going, I was in the zone – I felt good throughout and time flew by between my feeding stops. I was only forced to hold my position and tread water once as a container ship was approaching. As far as the Oslo ferry is concerned, I was so focused I didn’t even notice it when it passed right behind me.
The water was very clear on that day and soon I could see the bottom far away underneath me. I’m always very moved at that point of a swim – though I know the challenge is far from over yet! Mentally, this last part of the swim can feel like the longest of all as you feel so close to your finish point while it’s hard to assess the remaining distance as you have no other reference points than the water. At the same time, you begin to face new and often stronger currents as you approach the surf zone. But as predicted, the weather changed to the better, so I could swim smoothly all the way to the Danish shore. I was pretty lucky.
I exited the water to the cheers of my friends and my in-laws. Thomas was there as well to take pictures of the last part of my swim. I was quite exhausted when I finally stood up on the beach, but I felt such a sense of achievement and pride after pitting myself against the elements. Mentally I felt stronger than ever!
I quickly snuggled into my towel and warm clothes as we sailed back to Snekkersten to have lunch and celebrate my success at Café Vitus. ❤ Love was everywhere! I’m so thankful my crew and my friends find the time to assist me and support me. Without them my swims just won’t happen! Click here to see all the pictures.
So what happens now? Well, I’ve been dealing with an acute otitis for the last two weeks, so I haven’t been able to swim. Unfortunately I must cancel my swim around the Swedish Island of Ven this weekend. It’s very annoying as I really had looked forward to this circumnavigation, but hey, the island will still be there next year. So I’ll stay on land. Health and safety first! 😉
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