Not content with breaking the record for the world’s highest swim (at 5909m above sea level in the Andes), on 15 November an international team of 28 swimmers took on the world’s lowest – and saltiest – swim: 16km across the Dead Sea at 430m below sea level, in water that is 10 times saltier than that of the normal ocean.
This was the first attempt at a Dead Sea crossing between Jordan and Israel – amidst very volatile political circumstances. The Madswimmers joined forces with Ecopeace and the Cyprus Israel Swimmers to draw public attention to the depletion of the Dead Sea. The team included swimmers from South Africa, Israel, Palestine, Denmark, New Zealand, Spain and England.
“We trust our swim has kicked off renewed global interest to help save the Dead Sea” says Jean Craven, founder of Madswimmer.
The Dead Sea swim was no small feat. As well as political challenges and difficult logistics, the environment is unforgiving. The high salt content of the Dead Sea can cause severe sodium poisoning and electrolyte imbalances if swallowed and blindness if water gets in the eyes. To combat the high salt content of the water, the swimmers all wore a specially designed full-face snorkelling mask, allowing them to completely immerse their faces in the Dead Sea. Most swimmers complained of a burning skin after the swim.
The team of swimmers set off from an unidentified delta across the Jordanian border at 5am and arrived back in Israeli territory after swimming for 7 hours and 9 minutes.