Ganges River Swim Report

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Last week I was in Northern India in a small lively city called Rishikesh.  I was here to swim the Ganges River, which is at the base of the Himalayas. I decided to start my Swim about 18 kilometres up stream from my
Hotel and swim about 22 or more kilometres past my Hotel, to another city called Haridwar for a total of roughly 40 kilometres. The plan is to swim this same route 3 to 5 times, swimming from sunrise to sunset and returning to the hotel at night for meals and sleep.

The Ganges River is a swim that’s on my bucket list so I’m excited but nervous to finally be here and swimming it.  I have some inner doubts and I ask myself “is this really a good idea?” Oh well, I came all this way, let’s give it a try. Back home I didn’t train enough for this swim, I know it’s gonna be sore but I feel confident and experienced, once I get wet I feel like this is what I’m built for.

I made a deal with the Hotel to supply my foods and drinks. The cook prepared me about 25 lbs of rice, 20 eggs or so, maybe 100 small bananas, crushed carrots, cabbage, bruise apples, lots of cake instead of breads and other fruits and vegetables during the 4 days of swimming. I think I used about 5 or more gallons of fluids. About 1 hour before sunrise, i wolfed down as much food I can handle. I gathered my swim gear and I took a rickshaw then a small Van to a small town about 18 kilometres north into the Himalayas here along Ganges is where I choose to start. I chose to start my swim wearing neoprene pants with a swim jersey, swim socks with a tough sole. I stored my clothes, money, foods and drinks and other stuff in my orange waterproof sac. I will tow this bag as I swim along, Back in my Hometown I feel safe having my bright sac as I swim so boaters can see me, but there are no motorized boats on this River section, only a water rafting tour company working nearby The water temperature is good and cold, feels nice and refreshing coming from the Himalayas
As I change into my gear, I’m getting excited and happily nervous to start a rough into the unknown swim, Its hard to explain in words, but I live for this moment, danger, risky, to conquer and ‘ livin the dream’
I started the swim just after sunrise, the water looks good and clear. I see fish swimming and monkeys drinking from the shore. I told the monkeys that I’m here for swimming so stay back I’m gonna ‘ get er done ‘

Every outdoor swim I use a variety of front crawl style stroke, depending upon how I feel and water and weather conditions.  Most of my Swim stroke was mid elbow high, big stretch reach, full pull nice and focus glide and strong relax balanced 2 beat kick. After about 20 strokes I look straight forward to keep myself inline and to view the next obstacles.

During the swim, I had to portage 1 dam and 2 fast rocky currents areas, I had plenty of food and water in my wet dry sac, my breaks were at the portage areas.  As I passed by my Hotel, I thought about the Beatles and the BeachBoys, they were here for 3 weeks in 1968, they went here for vacation and to learn meditation from a famous Indian Guru. The area must have been a great vibe that time.  During one of my rest breaks, I witnessed a cremation ceremony along the River. I guess the wishes of the Hindu religion is to have your ashes disposed into the Holy Ganges.  This area of the Ganges is where they say Yoga first started. The city of Rishikesh is a famous place for Yoga, so many foreigners come here for Yoga and meditating.

As I swam along with the current, the River is fast then slow , the water is deep in only a few places but mostly shallow water 1 to 4 feet high. When the water is this low, must be careful for hidden objects and rocks scraping the bottom, must be careful for cuts and bruises. This time of year the water level is low but in a in a month or more the monsoon season will start and the Ganges River will be powerful and brings water high onto its banks. and gives life to the ecosystem. I swam over some big cat fish or sturgeon like fish, the fish were patrolling the bottom searching or waiting for their meals. I turned myself around and swam in place into the current to watch the big fishes, I tried to get close to them but they choose to swim away, I guessed they thought I was there predator. I saw a group of monkeys resting on shore, I decided to take a break on a rock in the River, The monkeys observing me eating bananas, they started yaking so I threw them bananas then carrots then I threw them a PowerBar, they preferred the Bar.

I saw enough garbage along the banks near the end of my swim, the water don’t feel as fresh here as where I started. The water seems to be murky or cloudy. Many locals living along the River use this for bathing, washing clothes, worshiping. Also many animals like dogs and cattle use this River daily. I see people gathering together, playing drums and singing songs or saying their prayers., I guess it’s part of their faith. I saw many Temples, different sizes and multiple colours. I didn’t see anyone fishing, I wonder if fishing was permitted or not.

I swam about a total of 137 kilometres over a period of 4 days, the same route but each day seem to be different. The most dangerous part of the swim are the fast shallow rapids. But also a dangerous part of the swim is when I began, to find the courage and guts to start. The swim was a great adventure a memorable experience. One day I love to return here to run a Ultra Marathon in the Himalayas, an organized race or maybe just a training Run.

Upcoming Events

Aug 2018: Alzheimer’s Disease Research Fundraising Ultra Run – 1,200K
Aug 2018: Inductee Cornwall Sports Hall of Fame ( Ultra Ironman )
Sep 2018: Montreal Madness Swim 130K
Dec 2018: 12 hour Pool Swim fundraiser for OSPCA & Children Treatment

2019
– Blue Nile & White Nile River Swim in Sudan
– Yangtze and or Yellow River Swim in China
– more Canadian River Swims
– Triple Deca Ironman Mexico

Don’t ever let your Dream become Just a Pipe Dream. ….

Watch your thoughts; they become words. Watch your words; they become actions. Watch your actions; they become habit. Watch your habits; they become character. Watch your character; it becomes your destiny. – Lao Tzu

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