“Plavam za mir, prijateljstvo in čiste vode”
(“I swim for peace, friendship and clean water.”)
— Martin Strel (motto in Slovenian, first)
Martin Strel (born October 1, 1954 is a Slovenian ultra marathon swimmer, best known for swimming the entire length of various rivers, including the Mississippi and the Amazon. He was born in Mokronog, Slovenia.
Strel holds successive Guinness World Records for swimming the Danube, the Mississippi, and the Yangtze. During his swims, he sleeps for 5 hours each day. He prepares himself for a marathon swim over a year and a half. It usually takes 6 to 7 months for Strel to recover physically.
Strel’s first two river swims were the river Krka (105 km) in his homeland, in 28 hours in 1992, and the boundary river Kolpa/Kupa (62 km), in 16 hours in 1993. In 2000 he swam the Danube River (2860 km) and achieved the world’s long distance swimming record (3004 km) in 58 days. In July 2001, he achieved one more world record – 504 km of non-stop swimming in Danube within 84 hours and 10 minutes.
In 2002, he swam the entire Mississippi River (3885 km) in 68 days.
In 2003, he swam the Argentinean Paraná River (3998 km).
On June 10, 2004, Martin started swimming down the Yangtze River (4003 km, the longest river in Asia, the third longest in the world) in China. He reached Shanghai in 40 days on July 30, 2004, one day before planned.
In Winter/Spring of 2007 Martin Strel swam the Amazon River, beginning February 1, 2007 and finishing 66 days later on April 7, 2007. If verified this would be another record-breaking distance of 3,274 miles (5,268 km), longer than the width of the Atlantic Ocean. Escort boats poured blood into the river to distract meat-eating fish such as piranhas and sharks.