The former Olympic swimmer and paddleboard enthusiast discovered water biking five years ago

By Peter Mikelbank
July 16, 2020 03:49 PM
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Princess Charlene
Palais Princier/Eric Mathon

Princess Charlene of Monaco is taking to the water — by bike!

Over the past two weeks, the royal has been spotted in Calvi on the nearby island of Corsica, quietly training on her water bike while pedaling currents at various island locations.

On Tuesday, after several social media teases, Charlene announced she's not only organizing but will also be participating in an upcoming marathon endurance race across the Mediterranean on September 12-13.

The former Olympic swimmer and paddleboard enthusiast discovered water biking five years ago and quickly adopted its extreme conditioning. She rides a sleek state-of-the-art Schilller SC-1, an American-designed craft.

Beginning with a noon departure from Corsica on September 12, the upcoming race will pit two relay teams of four athletes against one another in an overnight race towards the finish line at Monaco's Yacht Club. Expected to last 24 hours, Charlene is both the event's chief organizer and defending team champion.

Princess Charlene
Palais Princier/Eric Mathon
Princess Charlene
Palais Princier/Eric Mathon

Calling it "above all an incredible human adventure," she hopes it will promote water safety awareness as well as foster understanding of "the common attachment to the Mediterranean."

The princess, 42, and her 5-year-old twins, Prince Jacques and Princess Gabriella, are no strangers to the picaresque charm of the northern island port town, having vacationed privately on Corsica several times. Only two weeks ago, she and husband Prince Albert, who recently recovered from coronavirus, celebrated their 9th wedding anniversary there, sharing a shoreline sunset with their children.

Prince Albert, Princess Charlene and their twins
Palais Princier/Eric Mathon

After meeting with Calvi's mayor and the port captain to formalize arrangements last weekend, Charlene spoke to regional newspaper Corsica Matin, thanking local residents for their support, explaining the event as well as the larger role it plays in publicizing her charity efforts.

Founded in 2012, the Princess Charlene Foundation has as a priority objective, the teaching of swimming and water safety. The foundation actively supports swimming instruction as well as sports and education programs in 34 countries.

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The idea behind the long-distance race occurred to her "and her brother Gareth, a few months ago," she said. "The crossing of the Mediterranean from Corsica was obvious to us and the 180 km distance between Calvi and Monaco is a new sports challenge to take up."

"Calvi is a magnificent city, the beauty of the landscapes between sea and mountains amazes me as does the citadel, which overlooks the Mediterranean and the colors of the landscapes which vary at every moment of the day," she continued, adding that her extended stay allowed her "the opportunity to train regularly, at different times of the day and under varied weather conditions."