An Estonian flag has flown on Everest and the EstCube satellite zips through space, but one feat a little closer to home - and sea level - has thus far eluded the nation. This year, Henri Kaarma is attempting to become the first Estonian to swim the English Channel.
The open-water and winter swimmer has blocked off the period from June 29 to July 7 for the challenge. He's doing it to raise money for a hospital in Tallinn that would allow it to give better care to prematurely born infants.
The choppy, jellyfish-infested waters between England and France are plied by 500 ships a day and affected by high tides that can take swimmers miles off course. The crossing is 34 kilometers. The temperature in summer is 14-17 C, which may be the least of the challenges, especially for anyone hailing from the shores of the Baltic.
Kaarma will be accompanied by a spotter boat, as mandated by the Channel Swimming Association. Like anyone hoping to make a certified crossing, he can wear only trunks and a cap (no wetsuit) and will not be allowed to make contact with the boat or other people while en route.
"The idea to swim the Channel wasn't something that occurred to me overnight," Kaarma told sport.err.ee. "I have swum many marathons, but crossing the Channel is certainly among the harder challenges."
"I really want to test myself. I also want to do what I can to help the Pelgulinna maternity ward and raise funds to allow the hospital to buy a newborn simulation doll that is critically needed for resuscitation training."