Jump to main content
Press Office and Crossmedia Communications
University News
University News Sports

Swimming the Strait of Gibraltar

Defying the currents and his own limitations: In September, Joseph Heß will face the challenge of swimming from Spain to Morocco

  • Highly motivated: TU employee Joseph Heß at his training camp near Barcelona. Photo: Marcel Melzer

Up to six days a week in the water, clocking between 20 and 30 kilometers – Joseph Heß’s training program is no easy feat. Since February, the research assistant in the Professorship of Ergonomics and Innovation Management at the Technische Universität Chemnitz has been training almost every day, in order to successfully cross the Strait of Gibraltar in September of this year. “I was looking for a new athletic challenge, since I tested my form last year with 24-hour swimming. That went so well that I started asking myself what other big goals I could find and face in open waters,” Heß explains and continues: “After doing some research, I chose to cross the Strait of Gibraltar.”

In the sea, the industrial engineer doesn’t just struggle against strong ocean currents that can stretch the 16 kilometer distance to as much as 24, but also strong waves, salt water and busy ship traffic – all of which don’t exactly make the attempt a walk in the park. But Heß doesn’t have to make his way from Spain to Morocco all on his own – he and two of his fellow swimmers will make the crossing in neoprene suits supported by two escort boats. Due to constantly variable conditions, the exact starting date is not set, rather simply a window between the 8th and 12th of September.

Growing up, Heß first became acquainted with the sport of swimming through his work as a lifeguard. “But because it had been so long since I had been regularly active, my training was more than just counting the tiles in the swimming pool, I also had to improve my swimming technique,” he explains. Laura Niklaus, a colleague from the Professorship of Human Locomotion, helped Heß refine his technique and prepare for further training. During the semester, he also practiced with the TU Chemnitz’s athletic swimming course in the Schwimmhalle Bernsdorf. “I train strictly according to the Spanish organizing company’s plans, so I can be in top form on the big day. For me, that means swimming between four and five kilometers in addition to running and strength training.” From time to time, it can become lonely. So, Heß found a trusty training partner and important source of motivational support in Marcel Melzer, employee of the TU’s Honorary Professorship of Nanoelectronics Technologies.

With multiple training camps behind him and his almost-daily training sessions, Heß is ideally prepared and highly motivated as he enters the last few weeks before the big swim. “If I feel good on that day and I can get in the water under the best conditions, I am positive that I can manage it under four hours,” Heß says and adds: “Maybe this is just the beginning of other big crossings to come.”

(Author: Lars Meese, Translation: Sarah Wilson)

Mario Steinebach

All "University News" articles

Press Articles

  • Success for Chemnitz Media Scientist

    Dr. Stefanie Müller from Chemnitz University of Technology took first prize in the annual ARD/ZDF-sponsored “Women + Media Technology 2019” awards …

  • Rental Price Check: Value for Chemnitz Students

    As winter semester is starting, an internet real estate portal in German university towns has compared rental prices for student apartments – Chemnitz is nearly four times cheaper than Munich …

  • New Episode: Chemnitz Career Paths

    Recent graduate Zahra Joulaei currently works as a web developer at Staffbase – in a video, she reports on how this came to be …

  • From Bengaluru to Hannover

    Abhishek Honnavalli Puttaiah from India is a Chemnitz University of Technology graduate who, with support from the university’s Career Service, has found employment in Hannover, with one of Germany’s largest automotive suppliers – however, getting there was a rocky path …