Bogdan Cosmin Zurbagiu - Lake Belis-Fântânele

Beliș to Smida

14.1 km (8.8 miles)

4 hours, 28 minutes on 13 July 2019

Observed and documented by Alexandru Achim

First unassisted crossing



Support Personnel

  • Marius Sutea - kayak / crew
  • Alexandru Achim - observer / kayak
  • Florin Tomos - boat pilot

Escort Vessel: motor boat (Dealu Botii)

Swim Parameters

  • Category: Solo, nonstop, unassisted.
  • Rules: MSF Rules of Marathon Swimming, without exception or modification.
  • Equipment used: Silicone cap, goggles, speedo, Desitin

Route Definition

Beliș to Smida Village

Swim Data

  • Start: 13 July 2019, 09:11 (Europe/Bucharest, UTC+3).
  • Finish: 13 July 2019, 13:41
  • Elapsed: 4 hours, 28 minutes, 21 seconds.

Summary of Conditions

Feature Min Max
Water Temp (C) 18 19
Air Temp (C) 10 13
Wind (kph) 3 3

GPS Track

Trackpoint frequency: 5 minutes. Download raw data (CSV).

Speed Plot

Nutrition: Every 30 minutes, iso drink + Powerbar magnesium or L-carnitine shots + gel

Observer Log

Download PDF

Swimmer Q&A

What inspired you to do this swim?

Belis lake is an accumulation lake, in the heart of Transilvania, Cluj area, starting from Smida village where the river Somes arrives with fresh water and ends in Belis dam. So the first way was to swim against current of the water, towards the source river and then return.

In 2017 I have attended, in Belis Lake, a swimming event of 10km in neoprene and have found the location and scenery extremely beautiful. I knew then, that the lake has plenty of cold water to swim in.

In 2019, a local sports club and association Sport4You, has launched a project to organize open water swimming events in 7 lakes across Romania, in locations were one individual would find very difficult to arrange open water swims.

The project also has a environmental component to raise awareness on the importance of water and conducting multiple local projects to clean the area around the events.

Given I registered for the Ij Ijsselmeer marathon swim in Netherlands (17 August 2019), swimming in Belis cold water would have been a great training occasion and a special opportunity to try to document this swim.

The initial plan was to swim the Belis lake from Belis village to Smida village and return, but the weather conditions have been very hard given the daily temperature was lower by more than 10 degrees than average. The night had a 5 degree minimum and the day maximum did not go over 14 degrees Celsius. The water temperature dropping from 21 to 18 degrees in few days.

Please describe how you planned for the swim.

Before going to Belis, given our summer is hot, I had to start from winter with some cold water adjustment training, putting ice buckets in tubs and sitting there 1⁄2 hours sessions.

Also, when the weather became acceptable, I started doing some open water sessions in a lake close to my hometown Bucharest, called Buftea, in initially water temp of 17-18 degrees.

The person facilitating the swim was Florin TOMOS and to his invitation a number of 7 other swimmers participated, each of them individually, having a kayaker and swimming in a wetsuit, one way Belis to Smida, that is why in the documentation there are multiple photos and videos representing people that have either swum or assisted swimmers in this event, that somehow more or less have witnessed also parts of my swim.

I was the only swimmer that went for the full distance unassisted and skins.

I have chosen to swim this route in an unassisted manner, using a speedo, a swim cap and a pair of goggles. I had a dedicated team on kayak, who were monitoring my full effort, made up by a support crew member Marius SUTEA and an observer Alexandru ACHIM. They have both assisted me in the entire swim, the support crew offering support as hydration, changing goggles, safety on lake, while the observer to monitor the swim, taking notes of all the devices and observation on site.

Florin Tomos has also been a support crew member, using a motor boat and visiting each swimmer to see everything is safe.

On the morning of the swim, the crew and observer went on the kayak.

We installed the Garmin 920XT watch in the front of the Kayak and the Strava phone app on my mobile phone for recording the swim in the kayak. Both devices have been started at the start point in Belis. Alexandru has also used on his phone the mobile app GPSLogger to get the GPS coordinates of start, each intermediary point and finish.

On the boat there have been also two digital water thermometers and one external temp thermometer.

I have used a cream to protect from the sun (that never came out) Desitin, oxide zinc.

The photos and videos of the swim are either from the GoPro7 on the kayak or the mobile phones of the team.

How did the swim go, generally? Did you face any unanticipated challenges?

We started at 9:11 in a water at shore of 19.2 degrees Celsius in Belis at the boat ramp. The water was calm, no significant waves.

During the swim, wind came and a short storm washed the people on kayaks.

I felt well during the swim, with no remarkable issues other than a muscle cramp at one point and some toilet needs I had to solve.

Getting close to Smida village, the end of the one way swim (Belis to Smida), we identified an old house on lake, that seemed to be there since the beginning of the lake. This is where I exited shore and found out how cold it was on the outside world.

After photos and observer log noted, we have started the swim back to Belis on the second segment (Smida to Belis).

During the swim back to Belis (on the second leg) I started to monitor my mental awareness and seemed to jump some numbers while counting, this is when, feeling cold, I have decided to stop the second leg and get to shore where we called for the boat and the mission has ended.

I have successfully swam a one way from Belis to Smida, against river flow and during the second way return from Smida to Belis I have stopped. Maybe next time I will be better prepared to those variable weather conditions, to finish a double crossing.

Until next time, this is a great location, a great body of water and beatiful sorounding scenery.


Click to enlarge.