Adriano Passini - Laje de Santos Island to Santos
Laje de Santos Island to Santos Beach, Ponta de Praia
40.7 km (25.3 miles)
11 hours, 55 minutes on 24 September 2018
Observed and documented by Ashirvad Zaiantchick
First swim from Laje de Santos to mainland
- Name: Adriano Passini
- Gender: male
- Age on swim date: 37
- Nationality: Brazil
- Resides: Sao José dos Campos, Brazil
- Cesar Elvin Lazo (ATM Divers) – pilot, co-observer
- Marcelo Lopes – crew
- Aurelio Passini – crew (father)
- Ashirvad Zaiantchick - lead observer
Escort Vessel: ATM Divers boat Byroska (São Vicente)
- Category: Solo, nonstop, unassisted.
- Rules: MSF Rules of Marathon Swimming, without exception or modification.
- Equipment used: standard swim trunks, goggles (tinted and clear), standard swim cap, vaseline
- Body of Water: Atlantic Ocean
- Route Type: one-way
- Start Location: In-water start, 10m NW of Laje de Santos Island (-24.319066, -46.181599). Laje de Santos is a protected marine park, and physically touching the island is prohibited.
- Finish Location: Ponta da Praia, Canal 6, Santos (-23.985453, -46.310404)
- Minimum Route Distance: 40.7 km (25.3 miles)
- Start: 24 September 2018, 07:15 (America/Sao_Paulo, UTC-3).
- Finish: 24 September 2018, 19:10
- Elapsed: 11 hours, 55 minutes.
Summary of Conditions
|Water Temp (C)||21.5||22|
|Air Temp (C)||19||21|
Trackpoint frequency: 30 minutes. Download raw data (CSV).
Nutrition: water with maltodextrin and salt, gel, gatorade, coke, bananas, feeds every 30 min.
by Adriano Passini
Inspiration - Background
My interest in marathon swimming actually started after I began to practice meditation with Sri Chinmoy (1931-2007) and joined the Sri Chinmoy Marathon Team in 2005. I had always loved sports, especially swimming as a child, and immediately was very inspired by Sri Chinmoy’s philosophy of self-transcendence – not to concentrate on surpassing others, but to enjoy challenging and transcending one’s own perceived limits. Soon I began to enjoy long distances, especially in swimming, running and cycling.
In February 2011 I completed my first Ironman triathlon. At that time, a close friend kept talking about swimming the English Channel, which a number of our team members had already done. I got infected and, in July 2011, I felt inspired to book a boat for the Channel for 2013, even though my longest swim in the ocean was only my Ironman swim of 3,8 km at that time, and although I was aware how challenging it would be to train for the cold Channel waters for a swimmer from Brazil. In Nov. 2011 I did my first marathon swim, the Travessia 14 Bis, 24 km, near my home city, and I loved it! In August 2012 I swam the Sri Chinmoy Self-Transcendence Marathon Swim Rapperswil-Zurich in Switzerland (26,4 km, 1^st^ place main category) and in November again the Travessia 14 Bis, to gain more experience for the English Channel.
In 2013, during my final EC training, Sri Chinmoy’s philosophy of self-transcendence kept coming to my mind and I was wondering: What will I do after the English Channel? In Steven Munatones’ Open Water Swimming book I read about the countless marathon swims around the world. I thought of several crossings, but none of them excited me. I wanted to do something different.
Laje de Santos – a new goal
Then on a business trip to Curitiba, from the plane I saw Laje de Santos, a beautiful rock island and protected Marine State Park off Santos city, and instantly I thought: This is the perfect place! It is a wonderful place, with a suitable distance for a challenge, 42 km, ending in the city where I was born. At that moment my post-Channel project started, I just had no idea it would take so long to accomplish it. It was to be a big lesson in patience!
On July 27, 2013 I managed to successfully swim the English Channel (in 11 hrs 9 min) - an amazing experience, for which I was extremely grateful. But then in 2014 and 2015 it was practically impossible for me to swim, due to constant work travels. The ideal year for Laje de Santos, it seemed, would be 2016. That year, however, the weather became extreme and very unstable all year long. The summer was so hot that serious pool training was almost impossible at 28-29°C, and winter was very unsettled. We were still going to give it a try, but the boat was forced to return due to bad weather and safety risks on board before we even got to the starting point.
In 2017, I was not inspired to dedicate myself to marathon swimming but preferred to focus on triathlon, because here bad weather does not interfere with an event, at least most of the time!
Back to marathon swimming
One of the many things I learned from Sri Chinmoy was the mantra: never give up! I knew I could not give up on Laje de Santos. And at one point I felt: 2018 will be the year of this unprecedented challenge.
By the end of 2017 I had everything neatly planned out for 2018. A two week window for the swim was set, all the training races, workouts, speed and long distance trainings were scheduled week by week - as an aeronautic engineer I love detailed planning. I just knew it had to be this year. The waiting was becoming too much, I needed to do this swim, so I put all my effort into it. With the same determination as I trained for the English Channel I trained for Laje de Santos, with the added advantage of all the experience gained from the Channel.
The greatest difficulty of the Laje de Santos swim was the lack of reference. Today you can get so much information about the English Channel via the internet, by reading books, blogs or talking to swimmers who have already done it. Even the weather forecast has become much more accurate. For Laje de Santos, I only had one weather forecast website and the navigation experience of the ATM Divers staff.
Basically I just needed 20 hours of good weather, enough time to get to the start at the island, enter the water, swim 42 km and land in Santos. So I kept thinking positive and for 9 months prayed for good weather. I did everything I possibly could.
The big day
I had taken two weeks of vacation for the swim. If it did not happen in those two weeks, I would have to wait another year. The first week was mentally difficult, the weather was bad and I needed a lot of calm and patience. Quite a few times I had to fight off negative thoughts telling me: it will not work, one more year lost.
Then the forecast became optimistic and everything indicated that a swim would be possible at the beginning of the second week. Unfortunately, that weekend ATM Divers and their boat were already booked for a diving expedition. We had agreed my swim had to be during the week, since weekends are their main working days and they do not live for marathon swimming. But the weather held, and Monday was to be the day. The confirmation for the swim came 15 hours before the start. My support crew would be my father Aurelio and Marcelo Lopez of ATM Divers, plus observer Ashirvad Zaiantchick with his English Channel experience and boat pilot Cesar Elvin Lazoas.
We went to the marina early to load all my stuff on the boat and set off with the sun rising, around 5:45 am. During the 1 1/2 hour trip to Laje de Santos island at maximum speed we saw lots of ships, many at anchor, some dolphins and a vast expanse of water, which gave me an idea of the distance to swim. Luckily I did not get seasick on the way over – which can be fatal!
Arriving at Laje de Santos, I entered the water right away and said goodbye to that beautiful rock in the middle of the ocean. I knew it would be a difficult challenge, but I felt confident and started swimming strong. During the first 7 hours it felt like the tide was helping me, and I wanted to gain distance, because I knew I would swim against the tide getting closer to Santos.
Because Laje de Santos is a Marine State Park and nature protected area I was not allowed to step onto the island but had to start in the water – similar to some starts in Gibraltar Strait when the swells are too strong. Otherwise I followed English Channel swimming rules: only cap, swimming trunks and goggles, some vaseline, no touching boat or people, and finishing on dry land.
We diligently followed my feeding plan and I was fed every 30 minutes with maltodextrin, gels, Gatorade, coke or bananas, with my helpers always by my side, watching and supporting me. During the first three hours I saw no ships, because I was out of the anchorage region. Then slowly the ships appeared and passed one by one. Each ship reached was an achievement.
With every hour, I could feel fatigue increasing. I tried to fight off any negative thoughts and stay in a meditative and positive consciousness. I concentrated on feeling oneness with the water and payed attention to my technique.
8 hours – and the worst yet to come
The critical point of the crossing was to reach Moela island, because we knew that once I did, we would not be at the mercy of the lateral winds that can arise in that region. At around 8 hours into the swim I was parallel to Moela island and I knew I was close to finishing the challenge. But the worst part was yet to come.
As I passed Moela island, I had to reach the Ponta Grossa to secure my entrance into Santos bay, but now the waves increased and the tide made it more difficult, plus fatigue was weighing on my arms. After quite a struggle, I reached Ponta Grossa, from where I could clearly see the sandy stretch of Santos beach.
Swimming close to the rocks to reduce the effect of the tide, I was conquering this portion of the sea stroke by stroke. With less than an hour to go, night fell. I changed my swimming goggles and used my lights so the boat could see me. Finally, only a few hundred meters from the finish, I had to wait a few minutes so I would not get in the way of any ship, since I still needed to cross the entrance to the busiest seaport in Latin America.
As soon as no other ship was in sight, I accelerated to finish my marathon swim, arriving at Ponta da Praia and stepping onto dry land at 7:10 p.m., with an official finishing time of 11 hrs. 55 min. I was so happy and grateful for finally having been able to make this crossing, without anything unforeseen happening. My brother was waiting for me on the beach with a local TV news crew. I gave a short interview and went back to the boat.
I thanked my team, and we returned to the marina. I was tired but not exhausted, and very happy that my training and preparation had worked out nicely. I felt deep joy and gratitude.
Again I want to thank all those who have supported and inspired me, my crew, my team, my family, my teacher Sri Chinmoy and God for allowing me to have this wonderful experience.
Adriano Passini, Sao Paulo / Sao Jose dos Campos, Brazil
Adriano’s personal story about his English Channel solo of 2013 and the preparation leading up to it is available on Amazon: The Challenge of the English Channel – A Spiritual Approach to the Mount Everest of Swimming.
Click to enlarge.