International relay across Bering Strait kicks off

A total of 65 athletes from 17 countries will be attempting to swim from Cape Dezhnyov in Russia to the United States in 40 hours, as part of an international swimming relay across the Bering Strait.

The Eastern Military District’s press service announced that its assistant commander in charge of strength and conditioning, Col. Nikolai Khitrik, has sent a team of “walruses” or “polar bears”—this is what cold-water swimmers call themselves—to take part in a long-distance race from Russia’s Cape Dezhnyov to the shores of Alaska.   

Every stage of the relay race lasts 20 minutes, with three competitors in the water at a time. The route from Cape Dezhnyov to Cape Prince of Wales in Alaska is 53.4 miles; however, the athletes must swim against the tide for the entire course, and organizers estimate the real distance along the Bering Strait to be closer to 74.5 miles. Competitors plan to cover the distance within 40 hours.

An MB-16 hospital ship from the Pacific Fleet will be on hand to ensure the safety of the race, which will take place in water temperatures of 32–33 degrees Fahrenheit, in a sea state of up to three (which means waves of up to 3.2 feet in height).     

On the day before the race, a granite plaque was installed in Chukotksky District of Uelen, in honor of the first international swimming relay. An exact copy of the plaque will be installed at Cape Prince of Wales at the end of the race. 

The international swimming relay is dedicated to the 365th anniversary of Semyon Dezhnyov’s pioneering voyage across the Bering Strait, the 100th anniversary of the Yakutsk division of the Russian Geographical Society, and the 70th anniversary of the air passage between Alaska and Siberia, along which U.S. war planes flew over to Russian during World War II.  

First published in Russian in ITAR-TASS.

All rights reserved by Rossiyskaya Gazeta.

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