An Epic Swim: Big River Man
Going into this documentary I had no idea what to expect. This movie directed by John Maringouin was about Martin Strel, who holds the record for longest distance swam. His past accomplishments were the Yangtze, the Mississippi, and the Danube. The fact that he is in his 50’s, overweight, and a heavy drinker makes these accomplishments even more incredible. Throughout the documentary he takes on a new task, swimming the length of the Amazon, his greatest swim yet. I was settled in for an exciting ride with Strel, his son (also the hilarious narrator), and his insightful guide.
I expected Strel to be battling the wild, but his internal struggles turned out to be his true challenge. These struggles come out when Strel escapes into the night to continue his swim without his team, which amounts to a stressful and dangerous night search. Strel is found in a state of delirium, naked on the beach, and staring at the roots of a tree. These scenes left me wondering what exactly was going through his mind, but his son shines light on this by admitting that even he has no idea what Martin is going through. His struggles just magnifies the awesomeness of what he accomplished.
To make this movie even better, Martin Strel was sitting two rows in front of me, a living legend! Afterward I was determined to at least come close to this incredible man so practically jumped down to him after the Q & A. I got my wish and was able to congratulate and shake Strel’s hand, a moment that I will remember for a long time. He stared into my eyes with such a strong intensity when I was speaking with him, that it showed volumes about his inner strength. At the end I was left muttering to myself, “Wow I just shook a guy’s hand that went nuts!” I loved every minuted of it.
Tags: sam mitchell