Into the Maelstroms

By Wildswimming Brothers

Calum Hudson of the Wild Swimming Brothers takes up the story... "Fear has a way of sharpening the senses and focusing the mind. As I sat in the back of a RIB boat, the cold sea air rushing through my hair and the spray cooling my face I could feel my heart beat rising, my stomach churning and my throat drying up. I was deep within the Arctic Circle in Norway, on the same latitude as Siberia, Greenland and Alaska, where the sea is black, the water 9-10 degrees, hypothermia a real danger to anyone entering the water, the lions mane jellyfish are the size of a fully grown man with tentacles stretching 10 metres, sea eagles roam the granite sea cliffs and 600 killer whales roam the waters. I was about to attempt the longest ever swim in the Arctic Circle but there was another danger to concern us, we were adding the worlds most powerful maelstrom into the mix, The Moskstraumen.

Maelstroms are bodies of water where the currents swirl, whirlpools form, opposing tides clash, vortexes spiral down to the abyss and powerful eddies rage. The Moskstraumen in Norway is the biggest in the world, 8km wide between the islands of Lofotodden and Mosken, and the stuff of literary legend, Edgar Allen Poe, Jules Verne and Herman Melville all wrote about it's monstrous power and Norwegian fisherman treat it with the utmost respect. No one has ever swum in the Moskenstraumen or attempted to swim across it, many people thought the very idea of it was insane and I'd had my fair share of journalists look at me as if I was mad or had a death wish, in fact it took a good 6 months and a trip to Norway in person to convince our ship captain Therese of Aqualofoten to support us on the crossing.

However I wouldn't be swimming alone, I'd be heading into the maelstrom with my big brother Robbie and little brother Jack. Two days earlier we'd become the first people ever to swim across the second biggest maelstrom in the world, the Saltstraumen. We'd made that swim in 10.45 minutes just getting back into the boat before the central whirlpool appeared, the margin for error being around 45 seconds. The year before we'd swam across the Corryvreckan the 3rd biggest whirlpool in the world off the coast of Scotland in 22 minutes. It seems that whirlpool swimming was becoming something of a family holiday and tradition.

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