How to Prepare for the Bosphorus Cross Continental Swim

Are you ready to hit the waves in Istanbul? Because, for one day a year, the famous shipping lane that divides Europe from Asia is closed to boating traffic so that swimmers from around the globe can swim from one continent to another. Now that’s an awesome opportunity! At the same time, it isn’t exactly easy. Sure, the swim is only 5 odd kilometers, but that’s still a hell of a lot if you’re not a disciplined swimmer. So if you’re considering doing this swim, make sure that you prepare physically, mentally and – above all – strategically.

Oh yeah, and sign up on time. Only a few thousand people get to participate with a maximum of 1000 foreigners (with 300 coming from one country). So register on time!

Physical preparation

There really is only one thing for it – you have to hit the pool at least a few times a week for a few months before the race if you’re going to make it. This is a huge deal, of course – even if you’re actually quite fit. You see, the thing about swimming is that it’s just as much technique as it is endurance. If you don’t know what you’re doing, you’ll waste a huge amount of effort slapping at the water, without actually moving forward.

So get that technique down and then practice, practice, practice.

If you actually want to get a good time, that’s probably not enough. You’ll also want to hit the gym a few times a week to work on physical strength. That’s because while you’re probably used to swimming in a pool, when you’re swimming in open water, you’ll suddenly have to deal with currents. And those are a lot easier to fight with if you’re very strong.

As an added bonus, the more muscle you’ve got, the better you’re going to be able to deal with the cold. Because though you might think the water in Istanbul is going to be hot, in the middle of the canal you’re going to find that it can actually get quite chilly. And having a bit of muscle mass will help keep you on temperature.

Also, make sure that you consider your diet. You’re going to need a lot of energy for your swim. That means you’ll want to take in a lot of carbohydrates the days before your swim. Also, consider eating nuts and seeds, beans, berries, dark chocolate, low-fat yogurt and milk, leafy vegetables and orange fruits and vegetables. These will give you a lot of the vitamins and minerals you’ll need. To make sure you know how to find these in Istanbul and you don’t speak Turkish, get them translated into a foreign language.

Mental preparation

A lot of people new to long-distance endurance sports think it’s all about your physical condition. That’s not actually true. It is equally important to be mentally well prepared. If you know if your head that you can do it, then you actually can. If, on the other hand, you doubt yourself, then it’s going to be a lot harder to achieve your goal.

The best way to know that you can swim the distance is to actually swim it, of course. Note that if you’re going to pursue this strategy, give your body enough time to recover from that ordeal. It can take a lot out of you!

Alternatively, work on other exercises, like visualizing your objective. This can make a big difference and can help you push through your low points – and believe me, there will be a few when you’re swimming that far.

Strategic preparation

And then there’s that final thing to consider – the strategic preparation. And trust me, you’ll want to engage in this! Because, as I’ve already said before, swimming across an open body of water is nothing like swimming in your pool. For long periods of time you’ll be out of sight of everybody and anybody. In fact, with the waves being as they are, even if somebody is swimming only 30 feet away from you, you still won’t see them. That can be scary. So be prepared for that.

Then there’s the current. The Bosphorus is notorious for having quite tricky currents that you’ll have to navigate. If you don’t, you’ll be adding a lot of extra swim time to your crossing. And that’s the last thing you want!

The best way to understand the currents is to go on the boat trip the day before where they explain what’s going to happen. So do that. In the meantime, consider this.

The strongest current is in the middle. The good news is that it actually goes in the direction of the finish line. That means that you can swim with the current to the finish line. Then, if you turn off at the right time, you’ll have an easy breezy swim right to the finish line. That’s the perfect world.

Unfortunately, that’s hard to get – particularly on your first crossing. If you swim past the finish line, then you’re in trouble. You see, the current actually flows away from the bank there, which means you’re going to get pushed away from the shore. And so, if you miss the finish line, you’ll get pushed out and further and further away. However a strong swimmer you are, that’s nearly impossible to swim against.

The problem is equally that if you turn off too early, you’re again going to have that current against you. It will push you out and make that swim extra hard. Fortunately, it’s not as much of a beast as if you turn off too late, but it still isn’t pretty and you’ll be putting in a lot of effort for what will seem like a short distance.

So, what’s the upshot? Don’t leave the turning off till it’s too late. At the same time, don’t turn too early either, because though it’s better it’s not that much better. Instead, find that goldilocks stretch. That will make the whole ordeal a lot easier.

Final thoughts

Swimming the Bosphorus is a great adventure that has to be experienced by every swimming fan. I mean, how many people get to say they swam from one continent to another? At the same time, it isn’t for the faint of heart. You need to be disciplined and prepared.

Also, make sure you understand the route. Ask other people who have done it for personal advice and figure out where to turn off so you make it as easy as can be on yourself. Your body will appreciate it and so will you!

Dina Indelicato is a blogger enthusiast and freelance writer. She is always open to research about new topics and gain new experiences to share with her readers. Currently she is a writer for Pick Writers You can find her on Twitter @DinaIndelicato and LinkedIn.

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