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43 kilometer swim - just weeks away

Gene Giraudeau will soon be attempting a feat that no one has ever attempted before. In a few weeks time Gene will swim from Koh Phangan to Koh Tao - which she estimates will take an incredible 16 hours. This article first appeared in BlondeTraveler Magazine

1) What inspired you to attempt such a feat?Image removed.

I have always loved open water swimming, after successfully swimming the 23 km around Koh Tao in December 2012, I set my mind on a more challenging distance. Since I was 11, I dreamed of swimming the English Channel, but I know I don’t do well in cold water. So planning to swim the 43 km between Koh Phangan and Koh Tao lets me conquer the distance of the English Channel (34 km) in warmer water. I also think it’s important to continue to set yourself goals and challenges as you get older, it keeps you motivated and makes life way more interesting.

2) 16 hours is a long time. Are you confident you can make it?

I would love to say I am confident that I will make it, but I do have doubts every now and again. But when this happens I can use it to train harder.

3) How are sharks being put in danger in the Gulf of Thailand?

Finning...I'm sure it happens. Where did all our Chumphon sharks go? Pollution from feeding the Koh Samui BBQ trade is another big factor.  Did you know there are an estimated 20 thousand bowls of shark fin soup sold every month in Bangkok's Chinatown?

4) How will your swim help save them?

The money raised from the swim goes to Project Aware who have created the FINathon campaign. Project Aware is a global ocean conservation charity. Money donated to FINathon enables Project Aware to fight on behalf of sharks, lobby for better protection and negotiate for stronger polices that might ensure our children grow up with sharks in our oceans.

5) What makes you so passionate about sharks?

I am passionate about sharks and the ocean and everything in it. I sometimes think I should have been born a fish. I have been lucky enough to swim with many different shark species like whale sharks, great white sharks, mako sharks, bull sharks, black tip reef sharks and blue sharks. I have been able to watch these amazing creatures in their natural habitat. It's really sad to see just how misunderstood sharks really are.

6) Has anyone ever done this before?Image removed.

No one has ever done this swim before. So hopefully I will be the first.

7) Is the swim safe? What about sharks/ jellyfish/ etc? Will anyone be monitoring you?

I think you always have to treat the ocean with respect. There are always dangers involved in attempting a swim like this. There are sharks in the Gulf of Thailand but I hope they are all in a good mood the day of the swim. My main concern are the jellyfish, the tentacles are hard to see and can cause tremendous pain that may stop me from finishing the swim.

I will have a support boat following me the entire time as well as a kayak right next to me. I will also have a medic on board just in case. Hopefully he will not be needed and can just enjoy the boat ride.

8) How will you eat/ drink while you are swimming, without touching any surfaces?

Eating and drinking is the most important part of these swims. I have tested a few feeding methods and come up with one that works best for my body. To drink I have a bottle thrown to me connected to a strap. For eating the person on the kayak hands me some snacks. I like to eat chocolate to help with the salty mouth and coconut water keeps me going for most of the swim.

Image removed.9) What will be the biggest challenge of the swim?

The thing that scares me is swimming in the dark. I will start the swim at 2am and I just need to keep my mind strong when swimming in the darkness. The biggest challenge will be keeping my energy levels up with the right feeding and fighting seasickness. We are hoping for flat waters and gentle currents.

10) What will be the first thing you do once you step onto the beach after your swim?

The first thing I will do is call my mom, I know she gets really stressed when I do these open water swims.


Find out more about Gene's swim, and donating to the shark cause, here:  

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