After 89 days of swimming, the 41 year old, Avram Iancu, finished his epic 2,860 km swim on the Danube River on Saturday 16 September, arriving in the Romanian town of Sulina, on the Black Sea.
He is the first person in the world to swim the Danube without using a wetsuit and fins. His journey started in in Donaueschingen, Germany on 20 June 2017 and finished 89 days later, on 16 September 2017 in Sulina.
Avram swam an average of 32 km per day, peaking at 53 km. He crossed ten countries and passed four capital cities, Vienna, Bratislava, Budapest and Belgrade, but the journey was far from smooth. Every day brought new challenges. At the start, he endured water temperatures as low as 14 degrees Celsius and ended up suffering hypothermia. In Serbia he was held back by a massive storm, bringing with it heavy rain, and in Romania a blanket of fog delayed his start towards the end of his journey.
He swam through 65 dams along the way, and the massive still lakes that surrounded them, faced rapid currents and large waves, and navigated his way through shipping traffic on the river.
Avram was flanked by two kayaks paddling alongside him, and supported by a ground crew.
Arriving in Sulina, Saturday afternoon, Avram described the last few days as being extremely difficult:
“I was very exhausted after such a long period of continuous effort, and had to battle choppy water for the last stretch. I really felt myself fighting with the water to reach the finish line.”
Along the way, Avram was encouraged by onlookers and fans cheering him on at different points. Some offered food, others danced with him and his team on the banks of the Danube, and a few even swam with him at different intervals. Avram cites the public support as providing a real boost to his moral over such a long period.
While the fragile eco-system of the Danube motivated him to start the journey, he believes that the greatest lesson it offered, is about one’s comfort zone:
‘I am a simple librarian from Petrosani, who wanted to convey a few messages through my swimming. One of them is that we can each push beyond our comfort zone. Our self-imposed limitations are far less than what we imagine.”
On arrival in Sulina, Avram was reunited with his family, and received an official welcome involving city officials, media and his loyal fans. Judging by the comments of his more than 13,000 strong fan base on FaceBook, his swim has captured the hearts and minds of many.
Avram has been supported and sponsored throughout his journey by Canah, a European hemp food processor from Romania, whose nutritious food products powered Avram not only on his Danube journey, but also in swimming across the English Channel.