From Chukotka to Alaska: "walruses" from the Perm region crossed the Bering Strait. Interview

Two residents of Perm region - Kulyapin Alexander and Elena Guseva (Berezniki) hit the "Russian Book of Records." In August, they took part in a relay swim Chukotka-Alaska across the Bering Strait, body of water that separates Alaska from Russia.

Elena Guseva and Alexander Kulyapin, the participants of the project "Chukotka-Alaska 2013"

The start took place August 5tn from Cape Dezhnev (Chukotka, Russia), finish - August 11th at Cape Prince of Wales (Alaska, USA). During the six days, 65 swimmers from 18 countries have overcome 134 kilometers instead of the planned 86 kilometers – given the northern and southern currents and wind. Kulyapin Alexander and Elena Guseva crossed together for about 10% of the route - 14 km.

The participants had to fight strong swim ocean excitement, cold wind gusts up to 17-22 m/s and dense fog. The water temperature in the Bering Strait ranged from 2 to 8 °C. Swimmers were in the water without a wetsuit.

Alexander Kulyapin: things do not go according to our plan. In Khabarovsk, we thought that we could cross the Bering Strait in two days. According to our calculations, everyone had to go into the water 2 times. But it so happened that uncharted streams opened. We had to overcome them with a very low speed and large effort.

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Also, tides were a complete surprise to us. Several counter-streams between Alaska and the Big Diomede Islands (Ratmanov Island) were a serious obstacle for swimmers. A group of 30 participants, for two days stormed the 18-kilometer section of the strait. Because of the difficult weather conditions the duration of each race has been reduced from 20 to 10 minutes.

Alexander Kulyapin: Among us there are those who swim the breaststroke and those who the front crawl. When we stopped moving, we decided that at this stage will front crawl swimmers will swim instead of us. The rest of the male swimmers were on duty.

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During the relay Alexander Kulyapin made five attempts. First, he said, was at night - in the darkness, and the next, unscheduled - early in the morning. We had to urgently replace the Argentine swimmer, who could not go to his start. Also, the relay participants were on duty.

Alexander Kulyapin: In the boat, except the spare swimmer, certainly was a man who helps to get out of the water. Because of the cool, our hands were shackled and it was quite difficult to approach the boat and jump into it for us.

Alexander Kulyapin: Once the race started, the weather in the body of water separating Alaska from Russia changed. Storm (4-5 points) was almost constant. In 6 points there was a short stop. We fixed this point with this GPS and stopped. What's interesting, when the race was stopped - the storm subsided and when we started again - it intensified. How to explain it, I do not know. When we came back from Yakutsk city, the shaman and Yakuts later perform the ritual - to lure the host of the ocean. But he had us up until we sailed to Alaska. Once we got to the coast, a storm turned into calm at once, the sun came out. The Americans said they have not experienced such good weather a long time.

Hospital ship of the Pacific Fleet "Irtysh" accompanied the race.

Alexander Kulyapin: Conditions were very good - a sauna, special shower for heating - all you need to recover the heat balance. The whole medical team watched over our health - they measured blood pressure, pulse, temperature. There were not deep hypothermia in swimmers - body temperature below 32 degrees did not fall. This allows all swimmers to recover quickly and be ready for the next race. By the wat, how far is Alaska from Russia?

Finishing point was the American settlement Wales with a population of 160 people. In the school a memorial plate dedicated to swim was erected. "In America, we felt ourselves like guests. We were greeted very warmly, the mayor came out immediately, shook hands with all, Eskimos cheered, "- says the athlete.

At home Alexander Kulyapin returned at the end of August.


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