One of my earliest memories of swimming in the Baltic is from when I was about four years old, and my granddad threw me in the water against my will. I remember crying and being furious, but it was effective. I was in the water and I had no other option but to swim. Soon, it was harder to get me out of the water than in. I’d spend large portions of my summers swimming with my siblings and cousins. These are some of my fondest childhood memories.

If my memory serves right, the water tended to be far clearer than at its present. On good days, you could see the bottom of the seabed from our jetty. We also made a habit out of aiming our “cannonball” jumps at fish that swam by.

For each year that passed, my mother would increasingly often ask us to postpone our morning or midday swim due to “green sludge” in the sea. I’m referring, of course, to the algae blooming, which back then I simply associated with not being able to swim which was a bummer. It was only later, during my early teens that I started to understand the problems the Baltic Sea faces, such as eutrophication, discharge of hazardous substances and unsustainable fishing practices only to name a few.

I love the Baltic Sea, and I want to do what I can to preserve it for future generations. That is why I’m going to swim from Stockholm to Helsinki. I want to demonstrate that anything is possible if people unite and work together. That is the purpose of the Baltic Swim; to unite people for a common and worthy cause. Let’s save the Baltic together.

– Gustav