The World’s Five Most Dangerous Swims

Oceans Poles

From running rivers to raging oceans, here’s a list of some of the World’s Most Dangerous Swims…

In short, there are some rivers or waters on our Blue Planet that would kill you. If you attempted to swim the length of the Nile or the Congo river it’s very likely you’d be buying yourself a one-way ticket into a grinning crocodile’s gullet. There’s one swim on here that strays into great white territory, but I decided to stick to the general rule that someone had to have completed the swim for us to include it.

In no particular order, here’s my list of the World’s Five Most Dangerous Swims:

Atlantic Ocean Crossing

There are only a handful of intrepid swimmers who’ve attempted to swim across the vast Atlantic Ocean. In 1995, Frenchman, Guy Delage, washed-up on a beach in Barbados, claiming to have finished the crossing. Another French swimmer, Benoit Lecomte, supposedly swam 3,716 miles across the Atlantic and finally crawled out back home, on the French coast. Both swimmers spent tense periods in the water being followed by sharks. However, questions have since been raised about how much time they spent drifting on support rafts and how much monetary incentives influenced their endeavours.

One of the more recent transatlantic swimmer, Ben Hooper, set out from a sun-baked beach in Senegal, planning to swim to Natal, in Brazil. Over the first few weeks he lost contact with his support boat, fought through strong currents and was stung by a chewed-up Portuguese-man-of-war jellyfish. The sting, which can be fatal, caused him to writhe in pain and for a while he struggled to stay conscious as the pain coursed through his system. Four days later he was back in the water, but unfortunately the expedition ended due to a rough storm that threatened to sink the boat. Ben had spent 33 days at sea and swum 86 of a total 1,879 miles. He later described the swim as “[An] opportunity to try and redeem myself.”

The Moskstraumen

The Moskstraumen, swirling between far-flung islands, around the ragged tip of the Lofoten Island in Norway, is the largest maelstrom in the world. Whirlpools, eddies and unusual currents form during high tide in this icy expanse of water, deep within the Arctic Circle. Orcas and lion’s man jellyfish are also very common in the region. So far, the England-born Wild Swimming Brothers are the only swimmers who’ve ever crossed it.

Amazon Swim

The longest swim in the largest river in the world was completed by an overweight

Slovenian called Martin Strel. The

3,300-mile swim almost cost him his sanity and for weeks after he left the water he suffered from intense hallucinations and wouldn’t speak to anyone. During his time in the river he’d come very close to dying several times. Parasites had become lodged in his brain, piranhas chewed at his back and he was even struck by lightning. Despite all that, he eventually made it.

“I’m a little off, a little sick, a little crazy,” said Martin Strel.

1km North Pole Sprint

The Human Polar Bear himself, Lewis Pugh, was the first swimmer to swim across the Geographic North Pole, in 2007. He swam 1km alongside the sea ice, hoping to draw attention to the impact of climate change on the Arctic. The deep, black water he dove into was minus 1.7 °C, temperatures that would send most people into immediate shock. Under very particular conditions, supported by the best professionals and after years of training, Lewis was able to defy what was previously thought to be humanly possible.

A Dip Off South Africa’s Deadliest Beach

This certainly isn’t one I’d encourage, especially not if you’re someone who knows the Jaws theme tune and sometimes imagines fins in the water. The shallows around Second Beach in Port St Johns are one of South Africa’s most notorious expanses of water, known across the country for their shark attacks. It’s the most dangerous beach in the world for fatal shark attacks, and yet people still swim there. Many attacks at Second Beach have been fatal, suggesting that there might be more than a few leviathans lurking in the water.

Edited 12/19 to reflect the fact that the Amazon swim by Strel was not from the source.

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