Wednesday 9 December 2009

Swimming across the Hellespont

I came across Robson Green's Wild Swimming Adventure on ITV, last night. It could have done with a little more of Robson actually swimming, rather than waffling on about it, and the filler stuff about how well he fills his trunks should have been cut.

However, all was forgiven with the final swim in Snowdonia's Llynn LLydaw, the coldest lake in Britain. Anyone who's tried a bit of open water swimming will know exactly how the Geordie actor felt as he staggered out of the water after covering a kilometre 'bareback' in the freezing water.

Next week's episode includes a swim across the Gulf of Corryvreckan with the assistance of
SwimTrek's Simon Murie. In fact SwimTrek have just emailed to say that next year sees the bicentennial of Lord Byron's swim across the Hellespont (now called the Dardanelles), the fabled strait which connects the Aegean Sea in the north-east to the Propontis (Sea of Marmora), and divides Europe from Asia.

Following the swim, on May 3 1810, Byron wrote, Written After Swimming from Sestos to Abydos. My favourite verse is:

For me, degenerate modern wretch,
Though in the genial month of May,
My dripping limbs I faintly stretch,
And think I've done a feat to-day

There was little about the swim in the Observer (the Guardian started publishing in 1821), but 11 years later, it published a letter from Byron where he defended himself against the accusation that he swam the easiest route across the Hellespont. Apparently Leander, the lover from Greek mythology who swam the strait to meet his mistress Hero, did it both ways, with and against the tide. Some people are never satisfied.

Observer, April 30 1821:
(click to enlarge)

1 comment:

  1. Swimming across the Gulf of Corryvreckan is very exciting to watch while taking Corryvreckan boat trips. It's a must see.