Gardnerville resident swims the Bosphours Channel |

Gardnerville resident swims the Bosphours Channel

Staff Reports

Not everyone has a bucket list, but with Doug Robbins it seems to never end.

So on July 21, he competed in the Bosphorus Channel Swim, known as one of the pinnacles in world swimming, in Istanbul, Turkey, a 4.25-mile race with about 2,300 swimmers from all over the world — swimming from the Asian side to the European side, a cross-continental swim.

Now he’s accomplished long swims in open water before: Croatia, 16 miles; Greece, 20 miles; Italy, 18 miles; Alcatraz Island to San Francisco, and the British Virgin Islands, but nothing like this, he said.

He explained: When you jumped into the very cold water — no wetsuits allowed — and then hundreds of other swimmers also jumping in from the pontoon raft attached to the ferry, he had been transported up the Asia side of Istanbul. It was “every man and woman for themselves.” Everyone has time monitors attached to their ankles, he said.

“Swimmers kicking into you, swimming over you or under you for the first mile until everyone got into their stride and rhythm, thinning out or those who were dropping out fast. Pure chaos … crazy, cold salt water with waves — and marvelous!”

When he finished, Robbins said, “I had the biggest smile on for days.”

Robbins said the training started in late February doing laps and laps and then went into miles and miles. And honestly, he said, “it’s more mental than pure strength,” though Robbins, being an ex-Green Beret, fits the skill set perfectly, which is what is needed for such an undertaking.

His past bucket list items include swimming Alcatraz to San Francisco, flying a World War II Spitfire over the White Cliffs of Dover, hiking the mountains that Hannibal walked, walking the battlefields of Waterloo where his family member in the “Scotts Gray’s Calvary” fought against Napoleon’s grand army, and so on.

What’s next?

“Certainly nothing water-related,” Robbins mentioned. He said he has discussed a visit to the south Pacific or possibly even going to Argentina to learn the tango or hiking Hadrian’s Wall (73 miles) in northern England or being an extra in the Vikings series — as he says, “who knows.”

Whatever it is, this 73-year-old is not letting grass grow under his feet.