Big River Man

“Big River Man” follows Martin Strel (53) as he swims the Amazon River (3,375 miles). His son Borut is on the boat with him every day.

The aligators and anacondas might get him.

Or will it be the 2 bottles of wine and whiskey he drinks (per day)?

Luckily for us, it’s all filmed!

Thanks to “Aquaman” Rich Wilde (swam 28.5 miles around Manhattan) for the tip.


Where to watch?

Stream it on YouTube at


  • Genre: Adventure, Human Endurance
  • Release: 2009
  • Director: John Maringouin
  • Narrator: [Insert famous narrator name if applicable]
  • Duration: 100 minutes

My Favorite Parts (Includes Spoiler Alerts!)

  • Martin’s father used to chase and beat him/ That’s the reason he says he can endure so much pain. Martin says that one time is father was about to beat him ran and jumped into the river and swam away until his father gave up (it was Martin’s first endurance swim).
  • Martin’s day job is a flamenco guitar teacher.
  • Alligators and anaconda snakes are just two of the predators that could easily kill Martin in the Amazon. Martin’s son will accompany him on the trip carrying a gun.
  • Training — Martin swims 5 hours a day on normal days. He swims 4 km per hour.
  • Training for Amazon — Martin sleeps just 4 hours per night.
  • Loggers cut mahogany trees down in the Amazon because they are worth $20,000 each.
  • Half-way through the Amazon swim, Martin goes rogue (leaving his son and the guide boat behind). His son for is worried Martin is “going insane”. Matt, the other main volunteer on the boat seems to be losing it too. His doctor says he is experiencing delerium.
  • When he finishes the Amazon, Martin is ushered into an ambulance. When paramedics ask his name, he says “Fish Man”. Martin is in a catatonic state and refuses to see anyone except the hospital preacher who is also a puppeteer.
  • Martin slowly recovers and gambles away all his sponsorship money. He must return to his day job.
  • In the Spring of 2007, at the age of 52, Martin Strel swims across most of the continent of South America. It’s the longest swim in history. Martin faces deadly predators… Piranhas, caimans, and more.
  • Great quote: “Swimming is my life, my freedom” – Martin Strel.

A Cool Scene

MARTIN (looking at the vast Amazon, apprehensively): “Every river has its own spirit. And the Amazon… it’s the biggest of them all.”

BORUT (from the boat, reassuringly): “We’ve got your back, dad. Just keep swimming.”

MARTIN, with a determined nod: “Let’s make history.”
[The rhythmic splashing of water ensues as Martin starts his swim, the boat crew watching intently.]