Talk about diving into a cause. On Saturday, in an effort to
promote "friendship, peace and clean water," 49-year-old Martin
Strel of Slovenia will set out on a 1,000-mile, 26-day swim down
the Parana River in Argentina, from Iguazu Falls to Buenos Aires.

The swim should be a paddle in the park for Strel, who in 2000
set the Guinness record for longest swim when he covered the
length of the Danube--1,862 miles--in 58 days and then last fall
topped that when he stroked 2,360 miles down the Mississippi in
68 days (SI Adventure, Sept. 23, 2002). The most daunting part of
the Parana will be at the start, near Iguazu Falls. There the
current is fast and the murky reddish-yellow water strewn with
rocks. "There are no alligators," says Strel, "but [there are]
anacondas and piranhas, and I won't be able to see anything."
Strel will rely on a support crew of 25, including two kayakers,
directed by his 22-year-old son, Borut.

Though he's been to Argentina only twice, the well trained (and,
at 5'8" and a rotund 210 pounds, presumably quite buoyant) Strel
says he's ready. "River is river, and water is water," he says.
"No matter where you are."

After he reaches Buenos Aires, Strel will return to Slovenia to
prepare for his next project: In June 2004 he plans to head to
China for a 3,900-mile swim down the Yangtze, the third longest
river in the world. --Julia Morrill

COLOR PHOTO: JOE ROSSI/SAINT PAUL PIONEER PRESS CURRENT EVENT Supreme stroker Strel plans to swim the 1,000-mileParana River.