AFTER 22 arduous days and numerous setbacks along the way in the chilly waters of the Mediterranean Sea, endurance swimmer Richard Kruger finally came ashore following his successful swim around the 360 kilometre Mallorca coastline.
Greeted by his loving family and friends on the shores of Palma, the 37-year-old South African joked: “I think I have a swimming problem!”
Richard’s physically draining and deeply emotional journey came to an end on Saturday afternoon as he navigated the busy nautical traffic of Palma only to spot his son jumping in the waves on the beach of Ciudad Jardin, waiting for his dad’s return.
“It took me 22 days, which was a bit longer than expected, but due to weather conditions this is what happens,” said a delighted Richard. “We were battling the elements for quite a while but, yeah, we finished today.”
Richard’s emergence from the water and subsequent beachside celebrations were the culmination of an idea that was planted in his head 11 years ago following the tragic death of his brother.
“The idea started 11 years ago when my brother unfortunately passed away while I was working on the island here,” said Richard. “I couldn’t leave the island for about two days and friends of mine took me to a quiet little beach on the island and I had this crazy idea while I went for a swim to actually swim in my brother’s name around this island one day.”
So began a programme of endurance swimming and training that would lead Richard to Ciudad Jardin beach at sunrise on September 20; the starting point of his epic journey. The original idea was to swim for six hours a day and complete the challenge in 17 days. Although never considered to be an easy challenge, a number of additional obstacles made it all the more difficult for Richard to complete his task.
“My biggest challenge was jellyfish,” he joked. “No, I think that as time passed by it was really difficult to swim the six hours every single day. We had to think of creative ways of helping me think of things to not think about the time all the time. I’ve had two injuries, which I thought was going to be the end of it, but I worked through it and the next morning try to relax and work through the pain and eventually I could do it. After those two injuries I knew I could do it.”
Now referred to by his friends as ‘the man from Atlantis’, Richard was both hindered and helped by ever-changing weather conditions during his swim. On the final day of his journey he was helped by a strong wind on his back which almost propelled him home on his last leg across the bay.
Closely followed every step of the way by a support vessel steered by his friend Nic Kuwle, Richard stressed the high point of the challenge was rounding the lighthouses at Cap Formentor and Cala Figuera, clear indicators that he was almost home and dry. Richard is currently enjoying a well-earned break in Sweden before he returns to South Africa.
Richard swam in aid of the Allen Graham Charity 4 Kidz, a Mallorca-based charity supporting under-privileged children. Donations can still be made by buying a Mallorca 360 t-shirt or through the foundations website. The AlcheMedia Group created a daily blog complete with pictures and information or Richard’s epic journey and can be viewed at www.mallorca360.wordpress.com