Neda el Mon’s fifth running of the spectacular round-Sa Dragonera (Mallorca) swim on 31 May 2015 was plagued by jellyfish forcing the organisers to change the route to avoid the worst blooms. Many swimmers were still stung, but most remained positive about the experience.
British swimmer Manda Read (who won the women’s race) says that despite growing up near the sea and being an accomplished and experienced open water swimmer, she’s petrified of jellyfish. Yet, afterwards she wrote: “I was super proud of myself (and the others) for having finished. I met my demons head on, literally, and hadn’t got out, despite wanting to. A certain Canadian sportswear brand says do one thing a day that scares you and quite frankly I think I’ve done enough for one year.”
The original plan for the swim was to complete a circuit of the island. However, due to the wind direction the biggest concentration of jellyfish was to the north of the island. The revised route took swimmers around the southern tip of the island and then returned them the same way ensuring the total distance remained at the planned 9.6km. However, even parts of this revised route were affected by jellyfish, especially around the start and finish, and several swimmers pulled out.
Laura Garcia, one of the organisers, says that in general they do not have problems with jellyfish in Mallorca and around Dragonera. “We’ve been pretty unlucky this year, and also two years ago in 2013, but one of our participants spent the previous two weeks swimming around the entire coastline of Mallorca in stages and didn’t see a single jellyfish. Anyway, do not skip the issue, I’d say 95 % of the swimmers took at least one sting, so hiding it would just be a joke.”
Neda el Mon organise both competitive and non-competitive open water swims in Spain. Their next event is set in the scenic Lake Siurana and will definitely be jellyfish free. Distances are 3, 6 or 9km.
Find out more: www.nedaelmon.com
The advice from the NHS on treating jellyfish stings is as follows:
Most jellyfish stings are mild and don’t require treatment, or you can treat them yourself.
However, dial 999 if there are severe symptoms, such as difficulty breathing, chest pain, or if a large or sensitive area of the body such as the face or genitals has been stung.
Someone stung by a jellyfish should be treated out of the water. They should stay as still as possible while being treated because movement increases the risk of toxins being released into the body.
Any remaining tentacles should be removed using tweezers or a clean stick (wear gloves if they’re available). Applying an ice pack to the affected area will help reduce pain and inflammation.
Vinegar is no longer recommended for treating jellyfish stings because it may make things worse by activating unfired stinging cells. The use of other substances, such as alcohol and baking soda, should also be avoided.
Ignore any advice you may have heard about urinating on the sting. It’s unlikely to help and may make the situation worse.
Applying shaving cream to the affected area will help prevent the spread of toxins. Use a razor blade, credit card or shell to remove any nematocysts (small poisonous sacs) that are stuck to the skin.
After a jellyfish sting, any pain and swelling can be treated with painkillers, such as paracetamol and ibuprofen.