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The Day the English Channel World Record Was Set

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A description of the day that the English Channel world record by Petar Stoychev. For more information on open water swimming, click here: http://www.openwatersource.com http://www.dailynewsofopenwaterswimming.com http://www.imshof.org http://www.10Kswim.com
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    Open Water Source    www.openwatersource.com   Copyright © 2009 by Steven MunatonesInformation courtesy ofThe Daily News of Open Water Swimming   The Day The English Channel World Record Was Set Petar Stoychev   of Bulgaria set the  English Channel  record in August 2007 in 6 hours, 57minutes and 50 seconds. The personable and outgoing  Petar ,who is now an Athlete'sRepresentative with FINA, became the first person to cross the Channel to break the 7-hour barrier.  Petar 's historic swim is an example of the determination possessed by all successfulEnglish Channel swimmers - but the story behind his swim is equally interesting.Two months before his record-breaking swim, in June,  Petar  and his support team patiently  waited on the English shore for the right conditions. With funds, patience and time runningout, he returned home after ten straight days of cold, windy and rainy weather.Disappointed but undaunted,  Petar  told his boat captain, the renowned  Michael Oram , Honorable Secretary of the  Channel Swimming & Piloting Federation ,to call him if theconditions look favorable after the 2007  professional marathon swimming season   wasover. [Note: In hindsight, we believe that competing in several marathon races under all kindsof weather conditions and venues where he pushed himself to his physical and mental limitsfor 7-9 hours while  racing against the world's fastest pro swimmers   was an idealpreparation for the English Channel.]Like the six previous years,  Petar  competed on the  FINA Open Water Swimming GrandPrix circuit  and captured his  seventh consecutive world professional marathonswimming title .After the  pro circuit   was over,  Petar   went on vacation to the Black Sea with his pregnant wife and set his sights on the  Olympic 10K Marathon Swim  in Beijingfor 2008.  I was relaxing, just enjoying the beaches and only swimming a little . On Tuesday afternoon, August 21st,  Michael  unexpectedly called  Petar  and told him theconditions looked favorable for a Friday swim. Excited,  Petar  started to call around for airflights to England as soon as he got off the telephone with Oram. However, no tickets wereavailable for a few days. He was also worried that he had not been swimming enough for arecord attempt.  I had to find five tickets on short notice, including tickets for my wife,sponsor and a cameraman. We finally arrived around mid-day on Thursday and met   Michael   in Dover  , said  Petar .  Tomorrow looks good  , advised  Michael   who was getting his boat prepared when Petarfinally arrived, a bit tired but anxious. Petar   went for a warm-up swim at a nearby pool in Dover and unexpectedly met long-timerival,   Yuri Kudinov of Russia .  Yuri  told me he was also getting ready to swim , recalled Petar .Earlier,   Yuri  had beaten  Petar  at the World Swimming Championships in the 25K races.   Yuri   was acknowledged by many as one of best marathon swimmers after compilingthree 25K victories at the 2001, 2005 and 2007 World Swimming Championships, beating Petar  each time. On Friday morning, I woke up and had breakfast and coffee , said  Petar .  Then I went down to Shakespeare Beach to get ready [for the Channel]. Petar  started at 10:11 am under fair – but not perfect – conditions. Unbeknownst to  Petar ,     Open Water Source    www.openwatersource.com   Copyright © 2009 by Steven MunatonesInformation courtesy ofThe Daily News of Open Water Swimming    Yuri  started 25 minutes behind him and started to chase him down.  After the second or third feeding, I was told   Yuri  was closing in on me , recalled  Petar .  I imagined that I would set the English Channel record and then only have it for a few minutes before it would be broken by  Yuri . Petar  took it as a challenge and the race for the record was on. All day long,  Petar  surgedand   Yuri  responded. Back-and-forth the battle went between the two finest marathonswimmers in the world...in the most famous channel in the world. The athletes were wastingno time at their feedings and constantly maneuvered their course. It was as much a physical battle between two of the fastest marathon swimmers in history as it was a tactical match between the escort pilots. It was clear that the conditions were made for a record attempt, butthe Channel would have to hold up for a record to be set – no matter what pace  Petar  and  Yuri   were swimming.  It was like a race. The distance between us was almost constant throughout the Channel  . Towards the end,  Petar  pulled slightly ahead. Over the last 2 hours, I was considerably faster and was able to finish 8 minutes faster than  Yuri .   Petar  finished at Cap Gris Nez at6:08 pm with  Michael  at the helm and Alison Streeter, the 'Queen of the Channel', as one of the official observers.  I will always be the first man to complete the Channel in under 7 hours , said  Petar  as hetalked about swimming the 1500-meter freestyle and the  Olympic 10K Marathon Swim  inBeijing.  If I do not get a gold medal or place in the top 3 at the Olympics, then no one will remember me. In some ways, the Olympics require some luck because it is a race that happens only once every four years...but people always remember the English Channel  . Continuing my career will depend on my results at the Olympics , continued  Petar .  I havea 3-month-old daughter now and I must work for my family. Ultimately, I want to become amember of the FINA Technical Open Water Swimming Committee and work to developmarathon swimming around the world. Back in 1993, I did my first race. I wanted to have achance to travel all around the world and meet different people. I have been to beautiful and exotic places because of marathon swimming. When I studied geography in school, I could never imagine that I would be able to travel to places like Canada, England and Asia . Footnote:  Petar  ultimately went on to carry his country's flag as Bulgaria's flag-bearer at theOpening Ceremonies, swim a lifetime best in the 1500-meter freestyle in the 1500-meterfreestyle at the Beijing Olympics (15:28) and place  sixth in the Olympic 10K MarathonSwim  only a few days later. He has since went on to win his ninth consecutive FINA Open Water Swimming Grand Prix title - an unprecedented feat - and is currently serving ably onthe  FINA Technical Open Water Swimming Committee  and was inducted into the International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame  this year. Petar 's course against the Channel can be seen above, courtesy of his pilot  Michael Oram .     Open Water Source    www.openwatersource.com   Copyright © 2009 by Steven MunatonesInformation courtesy ofThe Daily News of Open Water Swimming    Yuri 's swim, also one of the fastest swims in history, was highlighted by   Pavel Kuznetsov    above .In  Pavel 's video, you can see how close Yuri's boat started after Peter. The fullRussian-language version is  here .  
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