First swim crossing of the Bering Strait in relay
Who
International Relay Swim Across the Bering Strait
What
- first
Where
United States ()
When

Several years in the planning, the International Relay Swim Across the Bering Strait – a multinational project led by Russia – came to fruition on 5–11 August 2013. Setting out from Cape Dezhnev in Chukotka, mainland Russia, at 4.24 p.m. local time on 5 August, the six-day staged relay came to an end at 4.52 p.m. local time at Cape Prince of Wales in mainland Alaska, USA, on 11 August. In total, 65 swimmers representing 16 different countries participated in the swim, staying in the icy water for around 10–15 minutes at a time before tagging the next swimmer in the water. The planned route was the narrowest crossing between Russian and US mainland – a span of 86 kilometres (53.4 miles); however, owing to strong tidal currents, the journey ended up covering 134 kilometres (83.2 miles).


Over the course of the relay, the swimmers had to contend with water temperatures between 2.5 and 10C (36.5–50F), heavy fog, winds up to 80 km/h (50 mph) and waves as high as 5 m (16 ft 5 in).

The swimmers who took part were: Vladimir Chegorin (RUS), Maria Chizhova (RUS), Elena Guseva (RUS), Ram Barkai (ZAF), Jack Bright (UK), Aleksandr Jakovlevs (LVA), Matías Ola (ARG), Henri Kaarma (EST), Toomas Haggi (EST), Nuala Moore (IRL), Anne Marie Ward (IRL), Toks Viviers (ZAF), Melissa O’Reilly (USA), Ryan Stramrood (ZAF), Cristian Vergara (CHL), Craig Lenning (USA), Rafał Ziobro (POL), Andrew Chin (ZAF), Jackie Cobell (UK), James Pittar (AUS), Paolo Chiarino (ITA), Mariia Yrjö-Koskinen (FIN), Ivan Papulshenko (UKR), Zdenek Tlamicha (CZE), Zhou Hanming (CHN), Oleg Adamov (RUS), Andrei Agarkov (RUS), Alekseev Semen (RUS), Tatiana Alexandrova (RUS), Roman Belan (RUS), Elena Semenova (RUS), Alexander Brylin (RUS), Afanasii Diackovskii (RUS), Vladimir Nefatov (RUS), Evgenii Dokuchaev (RUS), Oleg Docuchaev (RUS), Roman Efimov (RUS), Dmitrii Filitovich (RUS), Olga Filitovich (RUS), Victor Godlevskiy (RUS), Olga Golubeva (RUS), Alexei Golubkin (RUS), Alexander Golubkin (RUS), Alexsandr Iurkov (RUS), Oleg Ivanov (RUS), Pavel Kabakov (RUS), Eduard Khodakovskiy (RUS), Aleksandr Komarov (RUS), Aleksandr Kuliapin (RUS), Andrey Kuzmin (RUS), Irina Lankina (RUS), Vladimir Litvinov (RUS), Andrey Mikhalev (RUS), Victor Moskvin (RUS), Nikolay Petshak (RUS), Sergey Popov (RUS), Vladimir Poshivailov (RUS), Grigorii Prokopchuk (RUS), Dmitrii Zaika (RUS), Natalia Seraya (RUS), Viacheslav Shaposhnikov (RUS), Olga Sokolova (RUS), Andrei Sychev (RUS), Alexei Tabakov (RUS) and Nataliia Usachaeva (RUS).

The chief organizers of the unprecedented swim were the Ministry for the Defense of the Russian Federation, the Headquarters of the Eastern Military District, the Cold Water Swimming Association of the Khabarovsk Territory, the AQUICE-sport Federation (all RUS) and the Alaska Consulting & Trade-International (USA).

The relay was chosen as the 2013 World Open Water Swimming Performance of the Year.

The first person to swim between US and Russian territory in the Bering Strait was American swimmer Lynne Cox, who completed the 4.3-km (2.7-mi) span between Little Diomede Island (Alaska, USA) and Big Diomede Island (then Soviet Union, now Russia) on 7 Aug 1987, crossing the maritime border between the two nations in the process.