To date, 374 people have swum across the Strait Gibraltar, between Spain and Morocco connecting the Atlantic Ocean to the Mediterranean Sea.
A 10-11 mile swim made challenging due to heavy boat traffic, unpredictability of the strong water currents and high winds. The Strait's depth ranges between 985 feet and 3000 feet. Yesterday Rafael warned us that the water temperature was unseasonably cooler, 59-60 degrees. “Wildlife” encounters may include pilot whales, orcas, dolphins and the occasional shark.
Throughout the night I found myself waking up and obsessively checking the time. Probably not my most rested night, but I couldn’t help it: nervous excitement had set in. At 5:30am the first of three alarms went off. It was time to get ready.
We prepared our carbohydrate feeds for which we would need every 30 minutes during the course of the swim. Limited with our food choices this early in the morning, I forced myself to eat two cheese sandwiches, and drank water to remain as hydrated as possible. Swimsuit on. Check. Extra goggles. Check. As we walked out of the hotel, the morning air felt brisk and I was glad to have brought along my warm Dolphin Club swim jacket.
Driving through the darkness on a two lane road towards Tarifa, my heart began to race. We turned the radio on looking for distraction as we raced across the empty streets towards the Port of Tarifa.
Rafael was there to welcome us and introduce us to the crew. There was no dallying. He said we would be jumping in the water in about ten minutes. We motored in the dark a short distance, winding out of the marina, past the statue of a patron saint towards the lighthouse. It was cold in the morning air as we applied Vaseline where we expected to chaff and one more layer of sunblock. I nervously fussed with my new pair of goggles and, at the very last minute, decided to stick with my tried and true pair. The boat stopped just off the lighthouse. “Time to jump,” said our captain in a thick Spanish accent.