Marathon swimmer conquers Mississippi

Wednesday, September 18, 2002

When Martin Strel, the Slovenian marathon swimmer, took a brief break in Cape Girardeau last month, he was still recovering from a near direct hit by lightning. He was attempting to swim the entire length of the Mississippi River.

Last week, Strel accomplished his goal after 2,500 miles of swimming in a river that holds little appeal for swimmers in general. The effort took 68 days to get from Lake Itasca, Minn., to the Gulf of Mexico. Along the way, he drew attention to the mighty river and to one man's ability to persevere.

Strel can now add the Mississippi to his other swimming accomplishments, including 1,860 miles on the Danube River and the longest nonstop swim -- 312 miles in 84 hours, 10 minutes -- on record.

Will Strel's achievements change the world? Probably not. But any time one person sets a near-impossible goal and manages to achieve it, it provides inspiration for all of us.

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