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Moskstraumen Maelstrom

By Wildswimming Brothers
19, Aug, 2016

Attempting to swim across the two largest whirlpools in the world and not meet Captain Nemo.

The Moskstraumen Maelstrom, steeped in folklore and mentioned by Edgar Allan Poe, Herman Melville and Jules Verne... is it really where Captain Nemo and the Nautilus disappeared? Well the Wild Swimming brothers are heading out attempting to become the first people to swim across it... Calum picks up the story...

After our "Swim the Eden" expedition we kept getting asked what we'd got planned for our next adventure. Robbie had returned to Berlin back to his gallery and next art exhibition, Jack holed up in his study in Newcastle to put pen to paper for a short story on our swimming adventure and I returned to the Lidos of London and a new role at Eventbrite. After a few days slobbing on the sofa buried in Netflix marathons we could feel the lure of the world map and started to think about our next challenge. We started spinning the globe, pouring over charts, maps and frantically researching possible swims. We wanted to do something on a bigger global scale, something we were terrified off and really push ourselves to try and inspire others to get outside and embark on their own challenges. With that in mind we’re very excited to announce our 2016 challenge “Into the Maelstrom”. 

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"Into the Maelstrom" will be a world first attempt to swim across the two biggest and most powerful whirlpools in the world, the mighty Moskstraumen and Saltstraumen in Norway. Swirling off the Norwegian coast, above the Arctic Circle and on the edge of the Lofoten Islands these two vast whirlpools are the strongest and fastest tidal currents in the world.

The Mosktraumen swim is a 8km point to point crossing between the tip of Lofotodden and the island of Mosken across the strongest and biggest whirlpool in the world, it's central whirlpool has a diameter of some 40–50 meters (130–160 ft) and tides combined with the northerly Norwegian Sea currents and storm-induced flow result in currents up to 10.7 knots (20 km/h; 12 mph).

The Saltstraumen swim is a rapid sprint across a 0.25km tidal split with the worlds fastest whirlpool, up to 400,000,000 cubic metres of seawater forces its way through a 3km long and 250-metre wide strait every six hours, with water speeds reaching 22 knots (41 km/h; 25 mph). No one has ever attempted either of these swims and we're truly heading into uncharted waters.  We will have to contend with the strongest and fastest currents in the world, the freezing cold water of the Arctic Circle, over 600 Orcas roaming the region and the infamous Lions Mane Jellyfish. We've partnered with two highly experienced Norwegian teams to complete the swims, Lars and Therese of Aqualofoten and Knut Westvig of stella polaris and their expertise and knowledge of the currents will be crucial to our success.

We want to complete these swims to draw attention to the wild untamed beauty of the Lofoten Islands, the encroachment of oil drilling companies and motivate people to pursue a closer relationship with the natural world. If the image of 3 brothers swimming side by side across the biggest maelstrom in the world inspires even one child to want to protect the natural world then we'll be incredibly proud.

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This is a tremendously demanding and risky project and it demonstrates the strong commitment that these three brothers have towards conservation" says WWF-General Nina Jensen. Raising awareness of Lofoten's natural values awakens a commitment far beyond these borders, she points out "this commitment should tell our politicians something. Tourism and conservation represent far greater value to the Lofoten Islands than the short-term gain achieved with oil"

I believe that the wild places in the world not only deserve to be protected but that it is our duty to protect them. More and more of the planet is destroyed and exploited for our gain and the Lofoten Islands are under severe threat from oil drilling. With the worlds largest cold water coral reef, colossal colonies of seabirds, the worlds largest cod population and countless other marine mammals and fish, the Lofoten islands is a wild place like no other. The maelstroms of Northern Norway are the perfect personification of Mother Nature at her most wild, fierce and powerful and we hope that by swimming across them we will inspire people to reconnect not only with the natural world but the wild side within them. We are but one tiny part of the infinite and evolving animal kingdom and the sooner we understand that our place is within it, not in charge of it, the better for future generations to come. What right do we have to exterminate the wild places in the world so that our grandchildren may never see them?

We are honoured to do this swim in partnership with the WWF and fully advocate for a permanent ban on any petroleum activity in Lofoten, Vesteralen and Senja. What right do we have to confine Orcas, Sea Eagles, Pilot Whales, Puffins and many more to a picture in the back of a book?

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