London, Aug 23 (ANI): Martin Strel, 55, may be an unlikely athlete with a bulging belly but he has had the most adventurous swim in the world.
Strel has successfully swum non-stop across the dangerous Amazon, covering 3,274 miles in 66 days.
The Mirror quoted him as saying: "It helps to be a little crazy, to do what I do...I told myself that I would swim the Amazon or I would die trying.... I'm a big man, sure, but the Amazon is so much bigger."
The part-time guitar teacher trained in his swimming pool for five hours every day and finally set out on the history's longest swim ever in April 2007. Swimming for 10 hours each day, he covered almost 90 km daily. But his adventure soon became a fight against the nature.
He suffered from dehydration and exhaustion. Water-borne parasites left his body infected and worst of all he contracted dengue fever, and its subsequent cramps. He even wore pillow covers with slits for eyes and lips to protect his face against the heat.
But dangers inside water outnumber those above it. The Amazon is home to the very perilous bull shark, the piranha with razor sharp teeth, stingrays, crocodiles, alligators, anacondas and the deadly candiru fish.
He would rub gasoline and cream on his body to avoid the piranha fish from smelling him. Buckets of pigs' blood would also be thrown into the water to divert their attention.
He dreaded the candiru, which enters the body through the penis and feeds off body tissue and blood. Candiru can smell urine and to avoid the danger Strel peed in his wetsuit.
His son, Borut, and armed guards followed him in a boat to fend off pirates and carried his stockpile of medicine, food and alcohol.
Strel says: "Drinking wine is part of my life...It's my special blend, that I make myself, so it's very healthy and it gives me energy, without making me drunk. I would drink whisky as well, to wash my mouth out before I eat food.
"But sometimes I drank a little just to lift the day, because to swim a river like the Amazon is very hard. You never know what is below the water - and a drink helped me relax. You need a little Dutch courage!"
The adventure freak weighed 114kg (250lb) at the start of the swim and lost nearly 20kg (44lb) during the exploit, despite taking 11,000 calories-a-day for strength.
Strel admits he was utterly exhausted at the end and he felt like "a bomb was about to explode" in his head.
However, after his mind-boggling journey he has become a celebrity back home in Slovenia.
He attracts women by the scores now.
He says: "Yes, I get hit on a lot and sure, I do like pretty ladies.... But I'm already married. I have to keep my head clear - just as I did when I took on that river.
"I am just a regular man who just has higher goals than usual, not a superman." (ANI)