On Sunday, April 8, 200 7, 52-year old Martin Strel completed the first-ever swim of the 3,274-mile-long Amazon River. The Fish Man, as he was called by locals, almost died in the process several times; he encountered deadly piranha, crocodiles, anaconda, river sharks, blistering, relentless sun, dangerous currents, river pirates and drug runners, and the insidious candiru. At the finish his blood pressure was at heart attack level, his entire body full of subcutaneous larvae, and besieged by dehydration, diarrhea, and exhaustion.
Strel, who holds multiple Guinness world records for long-distance river swims, undertook this epic Amazon swim to call attention to deforestation and river pollution. His journey was covered by national media around the world, and followed by tens of millions of readers on a website tracking his progress (www.amazonswim.com). A documentary film of his journey will premiere at the Sundance Film Festival in 2008.
Drawn from the eloquent and evocative trip diaries of writer Matthew Mohlke, who guided Strel armed with buckets of blood to divert piranha, The Man Who Swam the Amazon is a gripping and inspirational story of perseverance, passion, and endurance: A real-life odyssey of a rare and driven man.
Martin Strel is one of the most elite athletes in history. He holds three Guinness world records in distance swimming, and is about to earn his fourth for his Amazon swim.
Matthew Mohlke is author of Floating Down the Country, an account of his Mississippi River paddling adventures.
Martin Strel is one of the most elite athletes in history. He holds three Guinness world records in distance swimming, and is about to earn his fourth for his Amazon swim. He earned his first Guinness in 2000 for swimming the entire Danube river, 1,867 miles, over 58 days. He then broke his own record in 2002, by becoming the first person to swim the entire Mississippi, 2,360 miles, in 68 days. In 2004, he broke his own record again by swimming 2,488 miles of the Yangtze. He broke his record once again with the Amazon swim.
Martin also holds a world record for continuous swimming, 313 miles in 84 hours in the Danube, which he completed in 2001. He is also the first person to swim the entire 1,200 miles of the Paraná river, from Iguazu Falls to Buenos Aires.
Martin has been swimming for years under slogan “swimming for peace, friendship and clean waters.” His swim on the Mississippi was dedicated to the victims of the 9/11 attacks, for which he achieved special recognition by Mayor Michael Bloomberg, and for which he was received at the UN by Kofi Annan. Later, the U.S. Congress passed a special resolution honoring Martin for his achievements and generosity.
Matthew Mohlke graduated from Winona State University summa cum laude with a double major in marketing and psychology. One day, he scribbled ten dreams he had in his life on a bar napkin. He realized he couldn't get there if he didn't leave the next day. He promptly traded a promising Fortune 500 sales job for a life of adventure. He's spent the last ten years bartending and delivering cars around the USA, working just long enough to save a few dimes for the next expedition or other existential excursion.
Highlights of his adventures include paddling the entire Mississippi river twice, once in 79 days by canoe solo in 1999, and once in 68 days with Martin Strel as his lead guide in a 2002 Guinness record swim; paddling the Paraná river with Martin in 2003; and 703 cross-country car deliveries, in which he recently completed a tour of all 30 Major League baseball stadiums.