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Apr 12, 04 - The Big Swim  Global SchoolNet
 Apr 13, 2004 09:51 PDT 

Apr 12, 04 - The Big Swim

I like, or should I say, used to like swimming in the arctic, until

Today I got an earlier start. Though I did spend a good amount of time
chipping the ice out of my boots and liners. They were much more
comfortable after that.

During the morning I shot some video; of me pulling, going through a
pressure ridge, the surrounding area and so on. I got some good video

At around 1pm I came to a wide, thin in-ice and open water lead. I
looked to the right and it looked if there was nothing but ocean water.
Looking to the left the open lead went on as far as I could see.

I decided I should put on the dry suit and swim the 250-300 yards
across. I put on the suit, and strapped the video camera onto the top of
the sledge to film myself. I figured it would take around an hour to
swim across and get out of the dry suit.

I walked out onto the thin ice and fell through after about 30 feet. I
rolled on my back and started breaking the ice with my back and
'swimming', while towing the sledge with a rope.

This went on forever. The ice was about 3 inches thick at first, then
got thinner. I could only move about 4-6 inches forward at a time. In
the center of the lead was about 40 yards of open water, no ice. It was
easier to swim in this area.

I also saw a ring seal, it was watching me thrash my way across the
lead. I was hoping that it wouldn't bother me, and it didn't.

I finally made it to the other side. Got the dry suit off, which had
leaked and let in water, soaking my boot and back. It took me 3 hours to
swim the lead and get the dry suit off.

I was a bit mad, and thoroughly exhausted. I lost good time that I
could've been making mileage with.

At the end of the day I came to another open water lead with steam
rising from it. It was 'only' about 130 feet wide, but I was too tired
to swim it and backtracked a few hundred yards and made camp.

My swim today was likely the longest polar expedition swim ever made.
I'd rather not do it again, once was enough.

In the morning I'll likely have to swim another lead. At least I made
okay mileage today, 9.5 miles.

Today's dispatched is dedicated to polar king Borge Ousland. He was the
first person to successfully complete a solo and unsupported expedition
to the North Pole.

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