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SWIMMING IN THE HIMALAYAS

Guinness World Record achieved!! Swimming at 6405m altitude in Himalayas

Incredible news! The team made it! Today they have swum at 6,405m altitude!

After days of grueling ascent through heavy snowfall, the team triumphed with pure joy and relief, swimming at 6,405m in glorious sunshine and securing the record for the highest altitude swim! 🏆 

 

With big smiles and satisfaction in their hearts, they are safely heading down to base camp. 💙💎

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READ THE STORY FROM THE BEGINNING:
HOW IT STARTED

I'm honored to announce that I have been invited to participate in an incredible feat: ascending the Himalayas to locate and swim in the highest body of water on Earth.

Respected Nepalese sherpas have identified this new body of water between 6500m and 7000m on peak Putha Hiunchuli. This discovery evidences the rapid pace of global warming and serves as a wake-up call for humanity to assume greater responsibility for climate change. So, the objective of this mission is to make visible what is happening while we break the world record for swimming in the highest body of water on Earth.

The expedition is anticipated to last approximately 16 to 18 days and will involve a team of swimmers, medical personnel, and cameramen, many of whom lack mountaineering experience, like me!! It will testify that the human spirit is stronger than we think and that we can make magic happen when we work together towards a common goal. 
 

OBJECTIVES
OF THE
MISSION

The expectation is that we will reach Putha Hiunchuli around May 4th, 2024. There, we will be the first ones to confirm the new body of water's appearance at this altitude and swim on it, breaking a world record.

By breaking the world record, we will:

  • Witness the impact of climate change and create awareness of it. 

  • Raising funds to support charities for children.

  • Unlocking our potential by pushing far beyond our comfort zones.

  • Serve as a testimony to the fact that the human spirit can create magic when we work together toward a common goal.

 

Join us throughout this adventure; we will provide daily 60-second transmissions so you can stay updated on our progress and know that we are safe. 🙏


➡️You can follow along here:

RAISING 
FUNDS FOR
CHARITIES

You can also be part of this project by donating to these charities. Our fundraising goal is to reach R250,000! And these are the charities we will raise funds for:
 

  • Red Cross Children's Hospital in Cape Town

  • Adolescent Oncology Unit at Universitas Academic Annex Hospital in Bloemfontein

  • Building a Sherpa shelter to help them combat the cold


➡️You can donate through this link: https://www.backabuddy.co.za/campaign/swimming-the-himalayas-2024

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MEET THE TEAM

PREPARATION

With only a month of anticipation, I received the invitation to be part of this project. Even though I have great experience swimming in ice water, I have almost no experience climbing at altitude! So this also became an extra challenge for me: to prepare in only one month to climb the Himalayas. 

We were advised to undergo training, including a gym program, to build strength and endurance. Our bodies need to be prepared for the different challenges this route implies, like demanding daily treks, tolerating the freezing cold climate, and dealing with the challenges of high altitude. 

So, my preparation consists of this: 

  • Altitude Tent: a tent that, on the inside, simulates the pressure experienced at high elevations, such as those in the Himalayas. So, it will help me to acclimatize. 

  • Taking care of food and eating high in iron. 

  • Medication for on-site altitude sickness

  • Running

  • Crossfit

All of this training has to be managed alongside my regular full-time work hours! The altitude tent is helping with that because I can work inside it, as you can see in the video 😉

Also, time management and energy management are also key for this to work out 💪

TIMELINE OF THE EXPEDITION

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Day 1 • getting together in Kathmandu

We will arrive on different days and times. We need to build trust very quickly because we have never met before and will be getting together for the first time in Kathmandu! It would be interesting to go on an expedition of this magnitude without knowing each other.

Day 2-3 • Kathmandu-Juphal - The starting point

We follow an informal meeting in the hotel. All carefully planned steps are discussed one last time. In the morning, the team boards a small plane for Nepalgunj, and the next morning another plane to Juphal.

Day 3 • Juphal-Dunai - The starting point upon arrival

 In Juphal, the expedition starts its first 3-hour walk to Dunai. This is the first camp and the starting point of the expedition. Here, we will prepare for the 14-day trek to base camp.

Day 4 • Dunai-Tarakot trek – Setting off

The morning of the departure on the first 6-hour walk. The sherpas join the group. They are the invaluable guides and porters for the expedition. From here on, the tough work starts.

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Day 5-8 • Tarakot - Musikhola - Kakot – Panji

Challenging gravity, getting used to the weight of the backpacks, the thin air, blisters, changing weather conditions, and the gradual yet exhausting path to base camp test each member’s physical and mental endurance.

 

Day 7 • Kakotgoan

In Kakotgoan, the last village before base camp, the expedition meets with local monks to ask the mountain for its permission and its blessing to keep us safe.

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Day 9 • The climb to base camp

The expedition covers 1,000 meters of altitude in one day, and we will have to be very alert for unexpected situations that could turn into obstacles on our way up.  

 

Day 10-14 • Rest time at base camp

Arriving at base camp. The duration of the rest will depend on the weather conditions. Patience is a crucial virtue in these circumstances. The sherpas depart on a 3-day logistics trek to set up the next camp.

Day 15 • Nearing the goal

This part of the climb is the most daunting. Steep slopes and knee-deep powder snow alternate with slippery ice fields, and the air becomes thinner with every step.

 

Day 16 • The trek to camp 2 - The swimming location (4.5.24)

We’ll go off the beaten track to find the lake where no one has set foot before.

• Creating access

The water of the pool might be frozen, and we will open part of the thinnest ice sheet and try to keep it from refreezing.

•  Safety first

Once we have chosen the spot for the swim, all preliminary measures are taken. Before anything, the water temperature is measured, and the quality is tested to ensure it is safe for people.

• Getting ready

The swim is individual, and each swimmer will be kept warm in a tent until it’s our turn. Hot chocolate helps increase body warmth before the ice-cold plunge, so maintaining focus and calming the nerves is crucial at this point.

• Limiting the risk

Swimming at such an altitude is not like taking an ice bath at sea level. The risks of hypothermia, reduced muscle power, lack of oxygen, and hyperventilation must be constantly monitored. Doctor Chiara is ready to intervene whenever something seems even slightly amiss.

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• Swimming 

We will achieve the incredible feat!

• After swim

After resurfacing, immediate medical attention is given. Staying healthy is the priority for all members, as medivac is not an option here.

Day 17 •  The return

The death-defying swim is over, and a new world record will be set. We will witness the effects of climate change, and we hope this feat will help start more initiatives to deal with this reality. 

Starts the return back home with joy and celebration.

SOME FACTS ABOUT THE QUEST

Steve Munatones, a distinguished writer from Huntington Beach, CA, specializing in open-water swimming, has reached out with some questions about our adventure. Here they are, with the corresponding answers:

Q1: What's the weight of the climbing gear you'll be carrying?
A: Each person’s climbing gear is expected to weigh about 15-20 kilograms. (can be lighter)

Q2: Will the team use supplemental oxygen for the swim?
A: We will not be using supplemental oxygen; we're immersing ourselves fully in the natural high-altitude environment.

Q3: Has anyone on the team reached 7,000 meters in altitude before?
A: No swimmer has, but our tour leader, Sean Disney, has twice summited Everest, and our sherpas and team members have significant high-altitude experience.

Q4: What's the difference in physical demand between swimming and hiking at high altitude?
A: Swimming at altitude, without the buoyancy aid of neoprene, presents unique challenges compared to hiking, such as the need for precise thermal regulation and swimming technique adaptation.

Q5: Which swimming technique will you be using?
A: We'll adapt our swimming technique to the conditions, aiming for 5-10 minute swims to balance the cold and safety.

Q6: What distance do you hope to swim?
A: The swim distance will depend on the size and nature of the water body we find, with an emphasis on safety and the expedition's message.

Q7: How will you rewarm after the swim?
A: We'll have a recovery tent with hot liquids, offering immediate warmth and safety post-swim.

Q8: If a swimmer gets in trouble in the water, what's the rescue plan?
A: We have helicopter evacuation plans from 6000 meters and below, and every team member is insured for such emergencies.

Q9: Which platforms will provide live updates from the Himalayas?
A: We'll broadcast 60-second daily updates via satellite from April 20th to the end of the expedition, keeping the world connected with us.

WORLD RECORD ANNOUNCEMENT

PRESS

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