Triathlete to swim from Sweden to Lithuania

A Lithuanian triathlete has said he plans to swim across the Baltic Sea from Sweden to Lithuania later this month to raise awareness about pollution in the Baltic.

“I want everyone to know about the pollution in the Baltic Sea. We all have a responsibility for the sea and to keep it clean for future generations,” Vidmantas Urbonas, a former triathlon world champion, said in a statement.

He hopes to make the crossing in three stages, leaving the Swedish southeastern town of Kalmar on July 22nd.

The longest stretch, 195 kilometres (121 miles) from Gotland to Palanga, is expected to take about 80 hours.

If successful, the distance covered by Urbonas will constitute a world record for swimming in open waters.

The venture is also part of the celebrations marking the 15th anniversary of the twinning of Kalmar with the triathlete’s home town of Panevezys, Anders Engström, a spokesman for Kalmar council, told The Local.

“He will be joined in Kalmar by around fifteen people, including a television crew from CNN and a team of doctors,” said Engström.

Urbonas has previously swum across the Nemunas River in Lithuania as part of an environmental campaign.

“I love Lithuania, I love the Baltic Sea and I’m a nature lover,” he said.

Environmentalists are particularly concerned about pollution in the heavily trafficked Baltic Sea because of the slow rate of natural cleansing. It is a shallow and virtually closed sea, with only a narrow outlet across the Straits of Öresund between Sweden and Denmark.