At the beginning of July he wants to arrive at the North Sea. The marathon swimmer Joseph Hess has big plans. Imitation is expressly discouraged.

On Saturday morning, Chemnitz native Joseph Hess started a swimming marathon from the source to the mouth of the Rhine at Tomasee in Switzerland.

There are more than 1200 kilometers ahead of him, which he wants to cover in just 25 days. That would be a record. The 34-year-old wants to swim eight to ten hours a day, but avoid particularly dangerous spots like the Rhine Falls. At the beginning of July he wants to reach the North Sea near Rotterdam.

There are a number of dangers lurking on the route

Before the start, he was worried about the currently low water level of the Rhine in the Alps, as he told the German Press Agency. He was advised to equip himself with additional protectors, for example on his knees, so as not to injure himself on stones in shallow water. He is accompanied on the tour by several canoeists. Other dangers on the tour are the current, shipping traffic on the Rhine and pollution of the water. They could bring about diseases such as gastrointestinal infections, explained Hess.

The doctor of industrial engineering has some experience. He has already swum the German part of the Elbe – around 620 kilometers in twelve days. He also wants to use his action for scientific research. The project is accompanied by scientists and students from several universities in Leipzig, Chemnitz, Mittweida (Saxony) and Furtwangen (Baden-Württemberg). Hess will collect water samples, for example. They are intended to provide information about how the condition of the river has developed in recent years. A documentary about the swimming marathon will also be made.

However, experts warn against imitators. “Basically, swimming in the Rhine is life-threatening and expressly forbidden in certain areas,” said Ralf Ponath from the Federal Waterways and Shipping Administration in Bonn. “The current of the river, undercurrents and the suction created by shipping are an incalculable risk, even on the bank. If you go into the Rhine, you put yourself and others in danger. » According to the information, Hess received approval for his tour under strict conditions.