“Water is our life, but clean water must be our future.”
A few weeks ago, we at Venice Lagoon Plastic Free had the pleasure of meeting swimmer Martin Strel in Slovenia. Strel, who is recognised around the world for both is athleticism and his activism in ocean conservation, is currently planning his biggest undertaking to date: the World Swim.
Who is swimmer Martin Strel?
Swimmer Martin Strel, the ‘Big River Man’, was born in Slovenia in 1954. Recognised among some of the best endurance athletes in the world, the ‘Big River Man’ is currently five-time World Record Holder for his swims in some of the world’s most challenging rivers, including the Amazon, the Mississippi, the Yangtze and the Danube. His successes have been the subject of a number of documentaries, films, and books, and he has been awarded various titles and prizes. One of these titles is Ocean Ambassador.
The World Swim
Strel’s World Swim is an ambitious project: Martin will undertake a 500-day swim across 130 countries, followed by a ship hosting chemists, physicists, biologists and other researchers. This group of scientists will monitor, inspect, observe and sample water, plants and animals, whilst another group of medics and scientists will study the physical and mental health of swimmer Martin Strel.
All results will be made available to the international scientific community who are specialised in the protection of our planet’s waters, for the implementation of scientific research and monitoring of those waters, and for the collection and sustainable treatment of marine litter using specific innovative technology and involving civil society and organisations which protect the environment.
Our meeting with Martin Strel, alongside representatives from the University of Maribor (Slovenia) and SME CleraOne, specialists in environmental services, focused on how to render Strel’s undertaking as sustainable and efficient as possible.
VLPF’s scientific and technological network, developed through years of work on EU Horizon 2020 projects MAELSTROM and In-No-Plastic which facilitate the removal and recycling of marine litter, as well as upcoming projects REMEDIES and CLEANSEAA2.0 have allowed us to develop technical and strategic experience which will add considerable value to Strel’s World Swim project.
Like Martin, we are convinced that environmental activism, united with science, will forge the path towards the development of programmes which will safeguard our planet and reduce plastic pollution. After all: “if water is our life, then clean water must be our future.”
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