Sports coach Marieke Blomme on Wednesday started her attempt at becoming the first woman ever to swim the entire Belgian coastline whilst breaking the current record by doing so in 18 hours.
Blomme was expected to swim from De Panne to Knokke-Heist on Monday, but due to the waves being too high and strong winds persisting, the record attempt was postponed to Wednesday.
“I mainly hope I’ll make it. It would be nice if it only took me 18 hours. Not necessarily to break the world record, but more for practical reasons,” she told Radio 2 before starting her swim.
“For example, I only have to swim against the current for 6 hours. I don’t know if it is feasible. Everything has to be right: my physique, the wind direction, the current,” she added.
If she manages to stick to her timing, Blomme, from Mariakerke near Ghent, will snatch the world record from 26-year-old Matthieu Bonne, who became the first person ever to complete a swim along the Belgian coast in under 24 hours in September last year.
Just after 10:00 AM, more than two hours after kicking off, Blomme was already half an hour ahead of schedule, as she had swum just under ten of the total 67 kilometres.
Peanut butter and tea
The temperature of the seawater Blomme has braved without a wetsuit – as it is a record attempt, she must swim in a bathing suit – is around 19°C, but she has been greased up to keep her warm.
Blomme is being followed by a boat at all times to show her the way and give her food, including rice balls, peanut butter and energy bars, and drinks – sports drinks alternated with tea to help her get warm.
She is completing the Belgian Coast Swim as part of a fundraiser, of which all profits will be donated to The Homestretch Foundation, which strives for equal opportunities for women in sport, and Snowbility, a non-profit organisation that makes winter sports accessible for people with a physical disability.