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Saturday, September 26, 2009

Man Swims 3274 Mile Amazon River in 66 Days

Dodging vicious creatures, unfriendly weather, a 55-year old adventurer swam non-stop to cross the frighteningly dangerous Amazon river for 66 days, while covering 3,274 miles.

With a bulging belly and thinning hair, Martin Strel is not your average adventurer with Greek-god like features but he surely has the guts to defy age and achieve what everyone thought of as "too dangerous," he swam Amazon river.

"It helps to be a little crazy, to do what I do...I told myself that I would swim the Amazon or I would die trying.... I''m a big man, sure, but the Amazon is so much bigger." Strel, who is also a part-time guitar teacher practiced everyday for five hours, before finally setting out on the amazon adventure.

Swimming 10 hours each day, he covered almost 90 km daily. But his adventure soon became a fight against the nature. He suffered from dehydration and exhaustion. Water-borne parasites left his body infected and worst of all he contracted dengue fever, and its subsequent cramps. He even wore pillow covers with slits for eyes and lips to protect his face against the heat.

But dangers inside water outnumber those above it. The Amazon is home to the very perilous bull shark, the piranha with razor sharp teeth, stingrays, crocodiles, alligators, anacondas and the deadly candiru fish.

To avoid piranha fish smelling him, he would rub gasoline and cream on his body, while his team that included his son, Borut as well would throw buckets of pig blood into the water to divert their attention.

Strel used to pee inside his wetsuit just to elude the dreaded candiru, which enters the body through the penis and feeds off body tissue and blood.

His son, Borut, and armed guards followed him in a boat to fend off pirates and carried his stockpile of medicine, food and alcohol.

Strel says: "Drinking wine is part of my life...It''s my special blend, that I make myself, so it''s very healthy and it gives me energy, without making me drunk. I would drink whiskey as well, to wash my mouth out before I eat food.

The adventure freak weighed 114kg (250lb) at the start of the swim and lost nearly 20kg (44lb) during the exploit, despite taking 11,000 calories-a-day for strength.

While on his exploit that has made him real famous back at home, he says "I am just a regular man who just has higher goals than usual, not a superman."

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