It makes sense that a world-famous swimmer would devote his life to reducing water pollution. Have you ever heard of Martin Strel? Strel is a Guinness World Record holder for swimming the entire length of some of the world’s largest rivers: The Danube, The Yangtze, the Mississippi, and, most notably, the Amazon River. But he doesn’t do this just for fame; Strel cares deeply about the quality of the waters he swims in. He cares about the people who live near those waters and rely upon them for daily life. He uses his fame to promote awareness and raise money to stop water pollution around the world.
Martin Strel was born in in 1954 in Slovenia, a small country located south of Austria. When he was six years old, he used to escape the house by going to swim in a nearby stream. Later, he used rocks to dam a section of the river and created a pool to swim in. He loved it, and spent all his extra time there. This childhood passion lasted throughout his teenage years, and when he was 24 he became a professional marathon swimmer. Since then, he has achieved greater and greater distances, and become famous for his feats of physical endurance.
Strel has traveled through some very polluted waters and experienced related dangers; over time his swimming naturally became focused on reducing water pollution. His motto for his long distance swims became “peace, friendship, and clean water.” He has reached over 10 million people in his mission to raise awareness and funding for clean water.
This year, on World Water Day?March 22, Strel will begin an epic adventure: Strel World Swim. He will leave from Long Beach California, and swim around the world, eventually returning to his departure point. He is the first man to take on this challenge?a journey that spans 107 countries and will take over a year to complete. Along the way, he will speak and support events that educate people on how we can preserve our most valuable resource.
It is fitting that Strel travel to countries worldwide, even places that may not have heard of him. There is definitely a global water crisis; in fact, in January 2015, the World Economic Forum announced that the water crisis has the highest impact on society globally, as far as risk to health is concerned. Over 80% of illnesses in developing countries are linked to poor water and sanitation; a fifth of these deaths are in children under the age of five. So his stops in poorer countries can have an astounding impact.
America has its own share of water pollution issues. Some of the pollution comes from corporate sources, but that doesn?t mean that individuals can’t contribute too. How can you help to stop water pollution? You can do lots of things, like simply using less water, cleaning up litter, and using natural gardening and landscaping supplies. Another idea is to help celebrate World Water Day 2016, maybe even signing up to swim with Martin Strel at one of his port locations around the world. You can also donate to many excellent organizations that work to prevent water pollution, particularly if you are concerned about the worldwide issue of reducing water pollution.