By Tales Azzoni
The Associated Press
Posted March 2 2007


SAO PAULO, Brazil · Slovenian Martin Strel approached the halfway point of his attempt to swim the entire length of the Amazon river Thursday, trying to avoid severe burns, alligators and the dreaded bloodsucking toothpick fish.

Strel, 52, has swum Europe’s Danube River, China’s Yangtze and the Mississippi, according to his support team. He has averaged about 56 miles a day since he began his 3,290-mile swim from the river’s source in Peru on Feb. 1.

Swimming 12 hours a day, with only a short daily break for lunch, Strel has covered nearly 1,616 miles of the Amazon, the world’s second-longest river, after the Nile.

Just days into his swim, Strel developed second-degree burns on his face and forehead.