Expedition Watch: Swimming the Missouri River


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Cornthwaite playing for the camera. Photo:

On August 10, British adventurer Dave Cornthwaite hopped into the Missouri River near Chamberlain, South Dakota, with a 40-pound, gear-filled raft and started swimming south. Since then, he has stroked for roughly 12 hours a day while dragging the raft behind him. As he swims, he tries to avoid floating debris and tree branches lurking just under the surface of the water. The expedition is the seventh installment of his quest to complete 25 journeys of 1,000 miles or more without assistance from motorized transport. He got the idea for his latest gig while stand-up paddling the Mississippi River just north of Saint Louis, Missouri. “I looked up a short stretch of the river and thought, One day, my
friend,” said Cornthwaite. “Then my mum got me some swimming goggles for Christmas and I
thought I better use them well.”

We emailed Cornthwaite a day before the end of his journey to find out a bit more.

WHO: British adventurer Dave Cornthwaite, 32, has stand-up paddled 2,404 miles down the Mississippi River and skated from Perth to Brisbane in Australia. He has also written a book about trying to date 1,000 women in 100 days. On the Missouri River expedition, up to seven crew members have paddled stand-up paddleboards and canoes behind Cornthwaite.

WHAT: On his 1,000-mile swim down the Missouri River, Cornthwaite has camped on river banks, refueled at Walmarts, and searched for entertainment at riverside casinos.

WHEN: Cornthwaite started his swim on August 10, 2012, in Chamberlain, South Dakota, and plans to finish it on October 6, 2012, in St. Louis, Missouri.

WHY: For his Missouri River swim, the Brit is trying to raise $150,000 for a breast cancer non-profit. Cornthwaite decided to set a goal of completing 25 expeditions to make sure that he stayed committed to new experiences. “Once I had decided to embark on a lifetime of adventure I needed a
project to keep me focused for the long-term, rather than completing a
big expedition and then drifting until the next came along.
Expedition1000 is 25 journeys of 1,000 miles or more, each using a
different form of non-motorized transport. I throw myself in at the deep
end with each trip, learning how to ride, paddle, or propel in the early
days of the journey.”

SPONSORS: Orca wetsuits, Mad River canoes, Lakeshore SUP, Aquapac, DMS, and Paddle With Purpose.


—Joe Spring