First German extreme swimmer creates Cookstraße in New Zealand
In the third attempt, it finally worked: After a good six and a half hours in the water, extreme swimmer Nathalie Pohl from Marburg crossed the 26-kilometer-wide Cook Strait. The strait, feared for its dangerous currents, stormy seas and unpredictable weather, separates the North and South Islands of New Zealand. The 28-year-old Hessin had tried to swim there twice before, twice she had to give up a few kilometers before the finish because the current was so strong that she could hardly make any progress despite swimming for hours.
“I’ve never been happier than now”
Patience was required again this time. Heavy rainfall and the cyclone “Gabrielle” initially prevented a start. For three weeks Nathalie Pohl waited for better weather, continued to train during this time, tried to maintain concentration and inner tension. Until the end it was not certain whether the difficult weather conditions would even allow an attempt. But on March 1, the time had come: After a swim time of 6:33 hours, Nathalie Pohl reached the finish line at Ohau Bay on the North Island at 4:30 p.m. local time. The relief after the success was enormous. “This track was the biggest challenge I’ve experienced so far,” she shared on Instagram. “And to be honest: I’ve never been happier than now that she’s done.” Nathalie Pohl is the first German swimmer to have achieved this. A total of 130 extreme swimmers have already crossed the Cook Strait, including the German André Wiersig.
Nathalie Pohl has come closer to her big goal of being the first German woman to create the Ocean’s Seven. The aim is to master the seven most important long-distance distances in open water swimming. The seven straits include the English Channel, the Strait of Gibraltar and the 47-kilometer-wide Kaiwi Channel in Hawaii. Strict rules apply when swimming, for example no wetsuits may be worn, and holding on to the support boat for a short time is also prohibited. Nathalie Pohl feeds herself in the water at regular intervals, but it is often difficult to eat at all, especially when there are strong waves like in New Zealand.
Nathalie Pohl has now completed six of the seven straits – only the North Channel between Ireland and Scotland is still missing. It is feared above all because of the ice-cold water and the risk of hypothermia after hours of swimming. In September, Nathalie Pohl wants to start her first attempt to complete the Ocean’s Seven. She would then be the first German woman, the youngest swimmer and the 23rd person ever to have done so. André Wiersig was the first German to complete the Ocean’s Seven in June 2019.