Martin Strel

From Openwaterpedia
Martin Strel speaking at the 2011 Global Open Water Swimming Conference in New York City. Photo by Skip Storch
Martin Strel swimming in the Amazon River. Photo courtesy of the Strel Swimming Adventure Holidays

Martin Strel is a Slovenian long-distance swimmer who was inducted as an Honour Swimmer in the International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame. Strel was born on 1 October 1954 in the town of Mokronog, in the Slovenian region of Lower Carniola, then part of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. He is best known for completing stage swims along the entire length of the Danube River, the Mississippi River, the Yangtze River, and the Amazon River. He is a member of the 24-hour club. He serves as an Ocean Ambassador of Ocean Recovery Alliance. He operates open water swimming tours with his son Borut Strel at Strel Swimming Adventure Holidays and planned the Strel World Swim, a solo stage swim around the globe.



Strel's motto is "swimming for peace, friendship and clean waters."

Strel World Swim

The Strel World Swim is a solo stage swim by Strel that was to begin in Long Beach, California where he will circumnavigate the globe swimming 5-12 hours per day. The start is scheduled for 2022 and will continue for approximately 500 days through the oceans, rivers, canals and other bodies of water including the Panama Canal, Suez Canals, the English Channel, the Amazon River, the Atlantic Ocean the Pacific Ocean, and the Red Sea in 107 countries.


in English: Big River Man, Fish man
in Portuguese: Homem Peixe
in Spanish: Pez humano
in Slovene: Zabca (frog)
in Chinese: Maladin

Swimming Career

  • Strel's first river swim was in the Krka River (105 km) in Slovenia in 28 hours in 1992
  • Strel's second river swim was in the Kolpa river (62 km or 39 miles) in 16 hours in 1993
  • In 2000, he swam in the Danube River and achieved the solo stage swim record of 3,004 km (1,867 miles) in a 58-day swim
  • In July 2001, he set another record — 504.5 km (313.5 miles) when he swam non-stop in the Danube River for 84 hours 10 minutes
  • In 2002, he swam along the entire Mississippi River (3,885 km or 2,414 miles) in 68 days
  • In 2003, he swam the Argentine Paraná River (1,930 km or 1,199 miles)
  • On 10 June 2004, Martin started swimming down the Yangtze River (4,003 km or 2,487 miles), the longest river in Asia and the third longest in the world in China. He reached Shanghai in 51 days in the summer of July.
  • Strel swam the Amazon River starting on 1 February 2007 and finished 66 days later on 8 April 2007. This was a record-breaking stage swim of 5,268 km (3,273 miles), longer than the width of the Atlantic Ocean. He had escort boats that were prepared to pour blood into the river to distract meat-eating fish such as piranhas.
  • In 2007, the Nile had been proposed as his next river, but Strel said, "I am not going to do the Nile. It's long but not challenging enough, it is just a small creek. The Amazon is much more mighty."
  • In June 2011 Strel completed his Colorado River Swim challenge for a new TV show. He appeared on the History Channel and the National Geographic Channel in the United States in the summer of 2012.
  • Earned 5 Guinness Records for longest swims.

Big River Man

Strel was recently the subject and star of a feature documentary entitled Big River Man directed by the acclaimed art-house director John Maringouin. The film, which won a Best Cinematography prize at the 2009 Sundance Film Festival, was critically praised for its extraordinary blend of comedy and drama. The film chronicled Strel's 3,300 mile historic swim of the Amazon.

The documentary was nominated for the 2012 World Open Water Swimming Offering of the Year award. Its World Open Water Swimming Association nomination reads, When Martin Strel challenged the Amazon River in 2007, the audacity of his dreams was defined by the power, length and dangers of the mightiest river in the world. Mother Nature had the upper hand from beginning to end, but the strength of his character carried Big River Man to victory. Piranhas and pirates, jungles and jeopardy, heat and hazards, the Slovenian adventurer slogged and struggled his way down the entire length of the Amazon River together with a 22-person international support crew. His unprecedented feat against Mother Nature in the steamy tropics was captured on film to astound viewers sitting in the comfort of their homes. The multi-dimensional, multi-lingual Strel is the charismatic character in the center of the world's wildest movie set. With success never guaranteed during his 66-day stage swim, his exploits are showcased in Big River Man. For its footage in the most unlikely open water swimming venue, for Strel's continuous support of the open water swimming world, Big River Man is a worthy nominee for the 2012 WOWSA Open Water Swimming Offering of the Year.


Lake Powell Adventure Swimming Tour

Strel Swimming Adventures

In 2011, Martin Strel and his son Borut Strel founded Strel Swimming Adventure Holidays in the Mediterranean Sea. They currently offer swimming adventure holiday trips in the USA (Lake Powell), Slovenia (Lake Bled, Lake Bohinj, River Soca) and Croatian Dalmatian Coast.

World's 50 Most Adventurous Open Water Men

He was named one of the World's 50 Most Adventurous Open Water Men in 2015 by the World Open Water Swimming Association.

Greatest Watermen in Open Water Swimming History

He was named as one of the Greatest Watermen in Open Water Swimming History by the World Open Water Swimming Association in 2015:

1. Zacharias Alexandrakis (Macedonia): Marathon swimming enthusiast, open water swimming promoter, lifeguard, swimming coach and lifesaving leader.
2. Antonio Argüelles Díaz-González (Mexico): Triathlete, ultra-endurance athlete, channel swimmer and author
3. Stathis Avramidis, Ph.D. (Greece): Researcher, swimmer, author, speaker, and lecturer
4. Peter Bales (South Africa): Channel swimmer, marathon swimmer, governing body administrator and escort pilot
5. Vito Bialla (U.S.A.): Extreme relay swimmer, professional sailor, and escort pilot of the Farallon Islands, California
6. Paul Blackbeard (South Africa): World-class pool swimmer, ocean swimmer, and life saver
7. Lord Byron (Great Britain): Poet, author and pioneering sea swimmer
8. Dick Campion (Australia): Olympian, coach, trainer, author, promoter, and professional marathon swimmer
9. Daniel Eulogio Carpio Massioti (Peru): Four-time Olympian, Channel swimmer, professional racer, and solo swimmer
10. Bruckner Chase (U.S.A.): marathon swimmer, ocean advocate, ambassador to the disabled, filmmaker, paddler and surf lifesaver
11. Buster Crabbe (U.S.A.): Olympic champion, ice swimmer, promoter, and movie star of 3 pulp fiction heroes
12. Guy Delage (France): Ocean swimmer, extreme adventurer, diver, submariner, and sailor
13. Marcos Díaz (Dominican Republic): Marathon racer, extreme swimmer, surfer, governing body administrator, and event director
14. Shannon Eckstein (Australia): Ironman lifesaver, paddler, kayaker, surf skier and ocean swimmer
15. Ian Emberson (Kauai, U.S.A.): Channel swimmer, original Ironman triathlete, ocean swimmer, event director, and triathlete
16. George Freeth (Hawai, U.S.A.): Ocean swimmer, surfer, paddler, and lifesaver organizer
17. Alfréd Hajós (Hungary): Olympic champion, professional racer, and architect
18. Trevor Hendy (Australia): Ironman lifesaver, paddler, kayaker, surf skier and ocean swimmer
19. Colin Hill (Great Britain): Ice swimmer, Channel swimmer, television commentator, and event director
20. Craig Hummer (U.S.A.): Competitive swimmer, kayaker, paddler, Ironman lifesaver, and Olympic television commentator
21. Ky Hurst (Australia): Ocean swimmer, two-time Olympian, body surfer extraordinaire, and champion life saver
22. Zhang Jian (China): Marathon swimmer, Channel swimmer, ice swimmer and university sports director
23. Captain Tim Johnson (U.S.A.): Marathon swimmer, author, professor, shark cage designer, analyst, and historian
24. Duke Kahanamoku (Hawaii): Ocean swimmer, Olympic champion, surfing legend and ambassador of aloha
25. Grant Kenny (Australia): Ironman lifesaver, paddler, kayaker, surf skier and ocean swimmer
26. Guy Leech (Australia): Ironman lifesaver, paddler, kayaker, surf skier and ocean swimmer
27. Luiz Eduardo Carneiro da Silva de Souza Lima (Brazil): Two-time Olympian, stand-up paddler, ocean swimming coach, pioneering ocean swimmer and promoter
28. Pádraig Mallon (Ireland): Marathon swimmer, Channel swimmer, ice swimmer, event organizer, promoter and triathlete
29. Vojislav Mijić (Serbia): Marathon swimmer, professional racer, solo pioneer and event organizer
30. Masayuki Moriya (Japan): Coach, channel swimmer, event organizer, clinician, and governing body administrator
31. Keo Nakama (Hawaii/U.S.A.): World champion, world record holder, pioneering ocean swimmer, event organizer and coach
32. Aaron Peirsol (U.S.A.): 7-time Olympic medalist, surfer, lifeguard, coach, and body surfer extraordinaire
33. Lewis Pugh (Great Britain): Channel swimmer, marathon swimmer, ocean advocate, ambassador, author, and speaker
34. Kevin Richards (South Africa): Competitive swimmer, triathlete, surf lifesaver, and coach
35. Philip Rush (New Zealand): Channel swimmer, marathon swimmer, professional racer, escort pilot, channel administrator, and fire fighter
36. Wayne Riddin (South Africa): Competitive swimmer, race director, aquapreneur, coach and promoter
37. Veljko Rogošić (Croatia): Two-time Olympic swimmer, professional racer, solo pioneer, swimming ambassador and marathon swimmer
38. Kenny Rust (Hawaii, U.S.A.): Ocean swimmer, lifeguard, aquapreneur, and event safety official
39. Ori Sela (Israel): Sea swimmer, coach, therapist, pioneer relay swimmer and aquapreneur
40. Borut Strel (Slovenia): Coach, swimmer, clinician, planner and logistic expert
41. Martin Strel (Slovenia): Channel swimmer, marathon swimmer, extreme adventurer, film protagonist, and camp clinician
42. Georgios-Ioannis Tsianos, M.D., Ph.D. (Greece): Research scientist, physician, expedition medic and Channel swimmer
43. Christof Wandratsch (Germany): Channel swimmer, professional racer, solo pioneer, ice swimming record holder and event promoter
44. Captain Matthew Webb (Great Britain): Channel swimmer, extreme adventurer, and professional racer
45. Johnny Weissmuller (U.S.A.): 4-time Olympic champion and movie star with a household name
46. Alick Wickham (Solomon Islands): Ocean swimmer, high diver, body surfing promoter, surfboard shaper, and freestyle ambassador
47. Patrick Winkler (Brazil): Competitive swimmer, ocean swimmer, stand-up paddler, race promoter and publisher of The Swim Channel Magazine
48. Jabez Wolffe (Great Britain): Channel aspirant and coach in the early generations of channel swimming
49. Doug Woodring (Hong Kong/U.S.A.): Marine environment ambassador, ecology advocate, aquapreneur, ocean event director, paddler, diver, and ocean swimmer
50. David Yudovin (U.S.A.): Channel swimmer, marathon swimmer, aquapreneur, benefactor and mariner

2017 World's 50 Most Adventurous Open Water Men

Strel was named to the World's 50 Most Adventurous Open Water Men in 2017 (alphabetized by last name) by the World Open Water Swimming Association:

1. Dr. Doron Amosi, extreme relay/cross-border swimmer from Israel
2. Antonio Argüelles Díaz-González, channel swimmer and endurance athlete from Mexico
3. Cyril Baldock, marathon/channel swimmer from Australia
4. Ram Barkai, administrator, event organizer and ice swimmer from South Africa
5. John Batchelder, butterflying marathon swimmer from USA
6. Nejib Belhedi, marathon/stage/boat pull swimmer from Tunisia
7. Alexander Brylin, channel ice swimmer from Russia
8. Luc Chetboun, extreme relay/cross-border swimmer from Israel
9. Salvatore Cimmino, amputee advocate and marathon/extreme swimmer from Italy
10. Jean Craven, marathon/extreme swimmer from South Africa
11. Ned Denison, IMSHOF administrator and marathon/ice swimmer from Ireland
12. Craig Dietz, disabled open water swimmer from USA
13. Ben Enosh, extreme relay/cross-border swimmer from Israel/USA
14. Udi Erell, extreme relay/cross-border swimmer from Israel
15. Stephen Junk, channel swimmer from Australia
16. Henri Kaarma, event organizer and ice swimmer from Estonia
17. Ger Kennedy, ice, underwater and extreme swimmer from Ireland
18. Craig Lenning, marathon/channel/ice swimmer from the USA
19. Neil Macaskill, extreme/cross-border swimmer from South Africa
20. Pádraig Mallon, escort pilot, event organizer and marathon/channel/ice swimmer from Ireland
21. Ingemar Patiño Macarine, channel/marathon swimmer from the Philippines
22. Andrew Malinak, administrator and cold water/marathon/channel swimmer from the USA
23. Chris Marthinusen, extreme/high-altitude swimmer from South Africa
24. Patrick McKnight, marathon/channel swimmer from the USA
25. Allan McLeland, Peak and Pond swimmer/climber from the USA
26. Darren Miller, channel swimmer and event director from the USA
27. Rohan More, marathon/channel swimmer from India
28. Gullupilli Narhari, extreme relay swimmer from India
29. Matías Ola, event organizer and ice/extreme swimmer from Argentina
30. Kieron Palframan, ice/extreme swimmer from South Africa
31. James Pittar, blind marathon/channel swimmer from Australia
32. Javier Mérida Prieto, disabled Triple Crown swimmer from Spain
33. Lewis Pugh OIG, ocean advocate and ice/extreme swimmer from the UK
34. Oded Rahav, extreme relay/cross-border swimmer from Israel
35. Stephen Redmond, channel/marathon swimmer from Ireland
36. Adrian Sarchet, marathon/channel swimmer from Guernsey
37. Ori Sela, extreme relay/cross-border swimmer from Israel
38. Dan Simonelli, coach/guide/observer and marathon/channel swimmer from the USA
39. Paramvir Singh, extreme relay swimmer from India
40. Albert Sobirov, ice swimmer from Russia
41. Petar Stoychev, marathon/channel/ice/Olympic swimmer from Bulgaria
42. Ryan Stramrood, ice/extreme swimmer from South Africa
43. Martin Strel, marathon/stage swimmer from Slovenia
44. Dr. Otto Thaning, channel/marathon swimmer from South Africa
45. Jacques Tuset, prison island swimmer from France
46. Toks Viviers, ice/extreme swimmer from South Africa
47. Adam Walker, coach, event organizer, and channel swimmer from England
48. Christof Wandratsch, event organizer and ice/marathon/channel/professional swimmer from Germany
49. Brenton Williams, event organizer and butterfly ocean swimmer from South Africa
50. Herman van der Westhuizen, extreme high-altitude swimmer from South Africa

External links