Long-distance swimmer re-tackles Vltava River

Yvetta Hlaváčová, photo: CTK

The Czech Republic’s most recognised long-distance swimmer Yvetta Hlaváčová – the women’s world record holder for fastest time across the English Channel – has begun a second attempt to tackle the Czech Republic’s famous Vltava River. Last year, enduring chilly waters and the occasional drowned rat, she swam 138 kilometres from Týn nad Vltavou, in southern Bohemia, to Prague, in a record seven days. This year, she set out to tackle the waters again – but with one difference: this time she’s swimming upstream.

Yvetta Hlaváčová,  photo: CTK
On Sunday 32-year-old Czech swimmer Yvetta Hlaváčová began the first of seven stages of her 2008 Vltava Tour: her attempt to re-tackle the Czech Republic’s most famous river, this time upstream. Proceeds from a related auction of the swimmer’s swimsuits, will go to charity, helping children in Kenya. Ms Hlaváčová hit the water on Sunday, beginning at Prague’s waterside Žluté Lázně. Before the event, I asked her to tell me more about the next seven days:

“I’m trying to do better than last year, which is why this time around I want to swim the Vltava River up-river. It’s difficult because you are going against the current with a speed of three kilometres. Every day will be hard: from 15 – 26 kilometres, which is unusual: different from if you are training four hours daily in a pool and if you are six hours in a river! It’s also stressful because many people are watching you. I will only really be sure ‘about me’ in the end. We’ll see.”

Photo: CTK
What is the Vltava like as a river? Another journalist mentioned you ran into a number of drowned rats last year…

{laughs} “Yeah, of course you can run into the occasional dead fish or stuff like that but the Vltava is a beautiful river, especially outside of Prague. It’s very cold in places: the temperatures in the water range from just eight to 26 degrees Celsius, so sometimes it will be really, really chilly. On the other hand, I’m used to such conditions, so I should be okay.”

Yvetta Hlaváčová,  photo: CTK
Amateur swimmer have also been invited to join you at stages: how well do you think they will be able to keep up?

“That should be fun: I think that some should try and swim with me. I hope they can keep up for maybe 50 metres. I am a professional so I much faster. But they should try, even if it’s difficult!”

If everything goes according to plan Ms Hlaváčová’s Vltava Tour will continue throughout the week and wrap-up at Týn nad Vlatvou on Saturday, July 26. If you’d like to see her in action, more information on the Tour is available at www.yvett.cz.