Write-up by Ossi Schmidt


Imelda & I fancied another swim in Germany this summer. Our friend Margit Bonhoff from Berlin had swum this 14k river/lake swim twice before. It’s billed as the longest Open Water Swim in Germany. It is definitely competitive for those who are interested in winning some of the excellent trophies – but there are only 3 in each category.

The swim starts at the north end of the Ratzeburger Lake and follows a narrow river – the Wakenitz – which until unification was stradling the border between the 2 Germanies. It is approx. 10m wide and has a minimal flow of 25cm/sec. At the half way mark it becomes a series of lakes which eventually take you to the outskirts of the Hansestadt Luebeck, where it ends in a quaint old-fashioned lido.

The water temperature was a balmy 21 degrees at the start rising to 24 degrees towards the end. However, due to unpleasant and profuse vegetation the organisers recommended the use of wetsuits, which we adhered to. We wouldn’t do that again though. Time allowed for the swim is 5hrs 30min which we managed to stay within comfortably.

Each solo swimmer (a max. of 50) is accompanied by a canoe, which requires 2 paddlers. Imelda and I, because we swam the whole swim together, thus had 2 canoes and 4 paddlers, more than enough to see us safely to the end. Despite the fact that this is a bog area, the water is green rather than brown, but the quality left nothing to be desired. The organisation, the welcome and the camaraderie were fabulous and we would recommend the swim without reservation.