The shortest distance to cross the Straits of Gibraltar is from Punta de Oliveros (Spain) to Punta Cires (Morocco) with a distance of 7.8 miles (14.4 kilometers), due to the characteristics of the crossing, it isn´t the most suitable crossing for the swimmer.
Most of the attempts are made from the Island of Tarifa to the area of Punta Cires, having to swim between 8 to 12 nautical miles (15 to 22 km) due to the influence of strong currents that prevail in the Straits. Only in the case of trying the double crossing (round trip), you can contemplate the beginning of the crossing from the Moroccan coast.

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The fundamental factor that must be taken into account for the crossing is the currents, which at some point of the crossing can reach more than 3 knots (5.5 km / h), always trying to ensure that this moment coincides with the final part of the crossing and in this way helps the swimmer to reach the Moroccan coast, by considerably increasing the speed of advance. This Association has managed to register currents of more 7 knots in some crossings with high tides.

crossing time

Generally the time chosen for the crossing is during the high tide cycle. In some cases, and depending on the tidal coefficient, the crossing can be started before low tide.

The superficial currents in the Strait are generally of Easterly direction, because the influence of input wáter from the atlantic into the Mediterranean predominates, with waters of low salinity and influence of evaporation of the Mediterranean. Different is with the Deep currents that moves in oposite direction for its dense and colder temperature. All these influences, as well as the special coastal geography and the sea floor in the area, mean that along the journey we find currents of different intensities and different directionsas well as different temperatures and / or salinity, producing a chaotic situation that makes it difficult (not to say impossible) to know the currents in each exact point of the crossing.

The conclusion of this Association, in the multiple crosses that it has organized, is that there aren´t two days of equal currents, although the same conditions of hour and tidal coefficient are met, so that the experience and expertise of the pilots, as well as technological aids will adapt the crossing so that it ends successfully. The last crossings made by this system have given a high success rate and are reflected in the navigation charts issued by this association on almost a straight line linking the island of fare and the points of arrival mentioned above.

As a conclusion we will say that the association carries out the crossings outside the hours where more current is expected, so the departure time will be determined depending on 3 variables:

  • Speed of the swimmer.
  • Coefficients and hours of the tides.
  • Prediction of winds for that day.

The only condition to choose the day of the crossing are the weather conditions and the start time, which is done based on the hours of high tide and / or low tide and the coefficients . It can only be expected that the wind and sea conditions are adequate, but it is impossible to predict it until at least one or two days before the swim.

Many swimmers have had to return to their place of origin without being able to cross the Strait after having stayed many days in Tarifa, and even some have had to suspend the swim due to a sudden change of wind when they had been several hours in the water.


The ACNEG Association is responsible for organizing (based on the official categories and for the brands to be valid) different types of swims:

According to the crossing method:

  • With neoprene
  • Without neoprene

And according to the route:

  • One way
  • Round trip
  • By relays

ACNEG, depending on the needs of the swimmer, is responsible for everything necessary for any of the modalities, the necessary permits with both governments (Spain and Morocco).


The swimmer has a Zodiac-type auxiliary boat that will be placed on the opposite side of the wind direction (to avoid breathing smoke from the engine) between 2 or 3 meters apart. This boat, in addition to providing safety and control of the swimmer, is in charge of supplying the swimmer’s feeding.

The basic concept that the swimmer must maintain on the feeding is that they should be the least possible during the journey and of a short duration, not more than 1 minute, enough time to ingest liquids and solids. The association advises a first refreshment at the first hour, next ones  no less than 45-30 minutes between each stops. Since strong currents influence the swimmer’s path each time it stops.

Gibraltar swimming from Voloshin Dmitri on Vimeo.

On the other hand, one of the long-distance open-water swimming rules is that the swimmer can not touch or hold on to the zodiac, so the refreshment will be delivered hand-in-hand, and the remains or remains of this, deposited in a net attached to a stick, in order to avoid that in a sudden movement the swimmer injures himself or hurt the personnel on board.

As for the substances ingested during the feeding, we recommend that they be always tested during training and that the swimmers are sure that they will not cause any unwanted reaction during the crossing. All medications (non-narcotic and prescribed) that the swimmer must take during the crossing must be shown and validated by the Association team.


Dizziness, vomiting and cramps

The appearance of these symptoms can be fatal for the swimmer and would proceed to the abandonment of the crossing. The causes can be multiple, standing out among them: the exhaust smoke of the engines of the boats, the ingestion of salt water in great quantity, the swimming between some spot of contamination of oil spills, fatigue, stress, feeding and / or the cold. All of them are avoidable and it will be very careful to stay far enough away so as not to hinder the crossing, as well as to be placed in positions where no smoke is disturbed. It is convenient that the swimmer can breathe on both sides in order to avoid the sea of ​​wind at the time of inhaling air as well as to be able to drink salt water and, if one is prone, to take some pill against seasickness. Also, you have to choose a good form of food with items rich in sugars and minerals that prevent cramping and / or hypoglycemia.


Each swimming crossing can be followed online through the website: centering the area of the Strait of Gibraltar and following the boats:


  • COLUMBA UNO (AIS nº 224523700)
  • COLUMBA (AIS nº 225954950)

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