Donate Here

Country Donor

With many thanks to Peninsula Beverage for their South Africa 'country' donation



Current Amount: £23205

Target: £23205

Solar Powered Web Site! Hosting by

Swim the Strait of Gibraltar

Share this

Swimming the Strait of Gibraltar is renowned as one of the toughest swimming challenges around with fewer people having succeeded than have climbed Everest. Due to the influence of strong currents which prevail in the Straits swimmers cannot take the most direct route and have to depart from close to the Spanish fishing town of Tarifa and swim between 18.5 and 22km across the currents to a rocky outcrop of northern Morrocco near Tangier. With swimming my weakest discipline tackling the Strait represents the most petrifying and physically demanding aspect of the triathlon which is why I am so excited at the prospect of attempting to conquer the many challenges it has in store.



> Water Temperature
> Ships & Sharks
> Currents
> Weather Conditions

> Sickness, Vomiting & Cramps



Despite being the most unpredictable and potentially physically challenging element of Tri4Africa swimming the Strait of Gibraltar presents a thrilling opportunity to achieve an immense endurance feat. 



 Water Temperature


I will be attempting the swim during autumn so sea temperatures will be falling towards winter lows of 15ºC and the risk of hypothermia is  therefore higher. The duration of the crossing depends on the characteristics of the swimmer and the sea and current conditions but it is estimated to take between 4 to 7 hours. Given that I only progressed from doggy paddle just over a year ago it is essential that I can stay in the cold water for at least 7 hours for the crossing to be successful. To help in my fight against the cold I plan to wear a wet suit, smear myself in whatever animal fats are in fashion and put on a 5kg+ life belt of fast food in the preceding weeks.

Ships & Sharks
The Gibraltar Strait is one of the busiest shipping lanes in the world, with up to 300 vessels sailing through daily. The danger of being run down by a tanker is minimised by the escorting boat which has the technical means and wherewithal, I hope, to contact nearby vessels. Apparently the greatest problem caused by other ships is the disruption caused to the swimmer’s rhythm by their bow waves. Although great whites are known to pass through the Strait I'm confident my scrawny form won't prove to be an attractive snack.

The Strait is characterised by a number of extremely strong currents that move between the Mediterranean and Atlantic Oceans. As a result the direction and strength of current, and the water temperature and salinity vary markedly across the channel. The timing and route of the trip are finely judged to minimise, where possible, the energy sapping impacts of these currents on the swimmer. The currents are not totally predictable and swimmers may have to change course accordingly adding extra distance to the crossing or, in unfortunate cases, preventing crossings from continuing.

Weather Conditions
The wind is the biggest determining factor in the accomplishment of a crossing as attempts can only be undertaken during light westerly winds. I will therefore be anxiously watching the weather forecast on the way down and may be required to wait for a number of days in Tarifa until conditions are suitable.

Sickness, Vomiting and Cramps
The appearance of such symptoms can be fatal for the swimmer and crossings are sometimes abandoned as a result. There are a number of factors which can contribute and emphasise these symptoms including; breathing in the exhaust fumes from the engines of the boats; swallowing seawater; swimming into polluted waters; weariness and/or the cold. I intend to overcome these debilitating effects by taking a healthy dose of stugeron (motion sickness tablets) before departing and training in bilateral breathing.

The swim has been booked through the Gibraltar Strait Swimming Association, to find out more please visit:


Where Am I?


Triathlon Completion: Day 255 - Sat 12 June
-20,293km Rustenburg, SA

Click here for blog, videos, photos & GPS location

Latest Press:
JustGiving "Fundraiser of the Month"

Latest Press Coverage

JustGiving [29/06/2010]
"Fundraiser of the Month"

Times LIVE [17/06/2010]
"The World Cup's most extreme fan"

ITV4 [12/06/2010]
"World Cup Countdown"
(FF to 16min 45sec in)

BBC Breakfast [05/06/2010]
"The incredible Rob Forbes"
(facebook account required)

Inside the Travel Lab [05/06/2010]
"Swimming to South Africa"

The Sun Newspaper [27/05/2010]
"Fan swims to World Cup"

Rob on BBC Radio 5 Live:

Follow Rob on:


Recent comments