Where do you go from here, Joseph Hess?

Joseph Hess swam the Rhine. From its source to its mouth 1,230 km in 25 days. A sporting success and, above all, a mental triumph, because there were a ouple of setbacks to overcome along the way. Community4you was a sponsor.

Joseph Heß swam the Rhine from its source to its mouth.
Joseph Hess loves a challenge – and variety. After taking part in several 24-hour swims, the man from Berlin found: Water is his element, but swimming laps is far too boring. So he went for straits, lakes and, subsequent, rivers. In 2017 he swam the Elbe from Bad Schandau to Hamburg. 620 kilometers in 12 days. Shortly afterwards he could hardly imagine that he would swim another river project. Too much had gone wrong on the Elbe, he says today - and the team probably saw it that way too.

But the pain was quickly forgotten and the thirst for adventure was not yet satisfied. A new challenge was needed - the idea of ​​swimming in the Rhine was born. The Rhine flows more than 1,230 km from the source in the Swiss Tomasee to the North Sea estuary in Rotterdam. From the wild Alpine Rhine to the busy shipping lane in the Lower Rhine - the river shapes Western Europe. A total of five countries have shares on the Rhine. For Joseph Hess that meant five times as much bureaucracy in the preparation. After a long wait, finally a few days before the start, there was certainty: He had all permissions to start - with only minor exceptions. These exceptions where particularly dangerous sites including the legendary Loreley and the port of Rotterdam.

However, Joseph had to learn that even with long professional preparation, there are things that cannot be avoided - they can only be endured. At 3°C ​​cold water, the skin goes on strike – even with a neoprene suit. As soon as Joseph swallows polluted water he struggles with gastrointestinal problems. Already after the first few days, having only just reached Lake Constance, the immune system is at its limit. The wetsuit repeatedly rubs open small wounds that become infected. The joints become inflamed. But Joseph remains stoic. He´s seen it before on the Elbe. The pain will pass. He doesn't want to take a day off. Even in the current-free Lake Constance with a headwind, he swims at least 30 kilometers a day.
New problems arise in Basel: After only a few minutes in the water, the accompanying motor boat gives up the ghost. Going on without it is not an option - it´s agreed in the safety requirements. But chartering a boat is not an option either. No supplier wants to have to pick it up again in Rotterdam. For a short time everything is on the brink. Everything depends on Joseph. Not only the team of friends and family looks at him in these moments. Swimming in the Rhine is more than a personal challenge. It is a project that is being accompanied by scientific and media partners. There is no giving up. In the end, a boat must be bought.

Against all odds - in a record time of just 25 days, Joseph Hess swims the Rhine from the mouth to the source in 25 days. A sporting triumph. But above all a triumph of will. After stepping out of the water, Joseph toasts his canoeist, who has been paddling by his side for 25 days, giving him directions, providing him with food and drink, and asks, What do we do next?

Although swimming in the Rhine was twice the challenge compared to the Elbe, the experience and better preparation pay off. Joseph Hess does not feel a Rhine hang-over today and has no long-term injuries. For the time being, he does his lengths in the city pool quite down-to-earth after work. Everyday life has him back. But in a few years there might still be a river or two on his mind...

Community4you supported Joseph Hess as a sponsor and congratulates him on the successful Rhine Swim 2022 project.