Yvetta

Hlaváčová

Tulip

World record holder for her swim across the English Channel

Yvetta Hlaváčová Tulip was born in 1975 in Boskovice, Czechoslovakia. She started swimming at the age of six, and since she was a child, she showed great potential in becoming a competitive swimmer. She competed in a variety of swimming disciplines: freestyle, butterfly, individual medley, and open-water marathon swimming.

She is a multiple time Champion, having represented Czechoslovakia/Czech Republic as well as a number of other countries. She holds many world, Czech, and European records, and her award-winning swim across the English Channel remains unchallenged to this day.

Yvetta

Hlaváčová

Tulip

World record holder for her swim across the English Channel

Yvetta Hlaváčová Tulip was born in 1975 in Boskovice, Czechoslovakia. She started swimming at the age of six, and since she was a child, she showed great potential in becoming a competitive swimmer. She competed in a variety of swimming disciplines: freestyle, butterfly, individual medley, and open-water marathon swimming.

She is a multiple time Champion, having represented Czechoslovakia/Czech Republic as well as a number of other countries. She holds many world, Czech, and European records, and her award-winning swim across the English Channel remains unchallenged to this day.

It’s May 26, 1975. The clock in the corner of the room reads ten minutes past five. "Congratulations, Mrs. Hlaváčová. It’s a little girl, 3,850 grams and 57 centimetres."

That's how it all started. An innocent creature, a sweet child. Well-behaved, independent, and obedient, taking her first steps when nine months old. “What was her first word”, you ask? “Water!!!” No… not really. I’m just kidding. I’m not actually sure what it was. I’d have to ask…

The years went by, and I was happily playing on the streets of Diviška in Blansko. My only worries becoming the captain of my squad or winning a bike race.

Turning six marked the decisive moment for me to choose a discipline in sport. "Okay, Yvetta, what sport would you like to play? It’s time to channel all your excess energy into something sensible," said my dad.

"But dad, why?!"

Not a week had passed, and I was already enrolled in a local swim academy.

"Do you know what the breaststroke looks like?" asked my coach.

"No, I don’t."

"Okay. Can you show me the front crawl instead?"

"Alright, I’ll give it a go."

"That was actually the breaststroke, Yvetta."

"Ah, I see."

As time went by, the training became more and more frequent. Twice a week at first. Then three times, five times, twice a day…

     from Yvetta’s autobiography "Rebelka" (Rebellious)

Yvetta is the author of her
autobiography "Rebelka" (Rebellious)

published in the Czech Republic in 2009

In 2009, Yvetta published her first book in which she writes not only about her career as a professional athlete, but also about her outlook on life.

Yvetta says: "The obstacles we face are not supposed to humiliate us. Rather, they are meant to challenge us and stretch our limits. They provide helpful experiences by showing us the right direction and helping us to find our true selves. If we choose to avoid obstacles and problems, we are robbing ourselves of invaluable experiences and knowledge on which every success is then based. Any experience, good or bad, can be helpful and may bring us closer to a state of satisfaction. Isn’t that what life’s all about?"

Yvetta ended her swimming career in 2008 at the age of 33.

She now lives with her partner Thomas and their two sons Tom and Matt in Spain near Barcelona. The parents educate the boys at home using the method of unschooling, and swimming is not on their curriculum.

"We live in a house with a garden, where our two healthy children run around sharing the space with a multitude of cats and our dog. I love the views of the nearby peaceful forest, our garden in perpetual bloom, and the warm sun.

Half our time is spent in Spain and the other in Switzerland. We do this in an effort to maintain a balance between the mind and physical world. We strive to always be aware of the varied gifts the earth has bestowed upon us. We are also grateful for our ancestry and frequently return to the Czech Republic.

No country is perfect, but you can decide where you'll live and with whom. The choice is yours. Changing your attitude allows you to change your perceptions and your life."

(from Yvetta’s upcoming audiobook)

RECORDS

Yvetta holds the all-time female record for the fastest English Channel crossing at 7 hours, 25 minutes and 15 seconds.
As of November 2019, this remains the 10th fastest overall time.

Yvetta completed 25 FINA World Championships marathon events with 8 podium finishes:

  •  Winner of the World Cup, Alexandria, Egypt (2002), 10 km
  • Tapes, Brazil (1997), 26 km, 2nd place
  • World Cup, Dubai, United Arab Emirates (2004), 10 km, 2nd place
  • World Cup, Ohrid, Macedonia (2004), 30 km, 3rd place
  • World Cup, Ohrid, Macedonia (2005), 30 km, 3rd place
  • World Cup, Santa Fe Coronado, Argentina (2005), 57 km, 3rd place
  • Capri, Napoli, Italy (2005), 36 km, 3rd place
  • Bohinj, Slovenia (2001), 10 km, 3rd place

Other successful solo marathon races:

European Cup, United Kingdom (2002), 10 km, 2nd place

European Cup, Switzerland (1994), 13 km, 3rd place

European Championship, Austria (1995), 25 km, 3rd place

Faros Marathon, Croatia (2002, 2003, 2007), 16 km, 2nd place, 3rd place, and 3rd place

Slapy Lake, Czech Republic (1993), 25 km, 7th place (Yvetta’s first open-water marathon race at the age of 18)

Other extreme swimming events:

  • Vltava Tour downstream, Prague, Czech Republic (2007) – a long-distance, open-water river swim, self-organised as a fundraising event for the Kojenecký Ústav orphanage in Brno. 138.7 km completed in 7 phases in 7 consecutive days
  • Vltava Tour upstream, Prague, Czech Republic (2008) – long-distance, open-water river swim against the current, self-organised as a fundraising event for the Asante Kenya children’s charity. 142.4 km completed in 7 phases in 7 consecutive days

World Record holder for the fastest swim across the English Channel (2006)


Three-time champion of crossing the English Channel, achieving the absolute best average time calculated from the three attempts (2005, 2006, 2007)


Record holder for the longest upstream, open-water river swim (142.2 km)


Participant and medallist in the world's toughest and longest, open-water river swim on the Paraná River in South America (88 km)


Holder of three records from the European Masters


European Swimming Championship two-time medallist


World Swimming Championship two-time medallist


Female swimmer of the Year (1995)


The first Czech swimmer in history to swim the 200m freestyle under two minutes


Five-time Champion of South America


Champion of Great Britain


Champion of Croatia


Champion of Egypt


60 Czech swimming records broken during her career


Holds 82 titles from the Czech Republic Swimming Championships in swimming pool racing


Holds 20 titles from the Czech Republic Swimming Championships in marathon swimming


World Cup winner in the 100m individual medley, 100m butterfly, and 10 km marathon race


Yvetta broke records in the Czech Republic in the following disciplines:
50 m, 100 m, 200 m (butterfly)
50 m, 100 m, 200 m (freestyle)
100 m (individual medley)
10 km, 15 km, 20 km, 25 km (marathon swimming)

"REBELKA" AUTOBIOGRAPHY

Each of us has goals in life and challenges to overcome; our own private English Channel or Mount Everest. Yet, the paths we take to reach our goals are never easy or straight forward. They may never be achieved if we aren’t willing to make sacrifices. 

Yvetta’s autobiographical book, “Rebelka” (Rebellious), describes one such life journey towards success and recognition. A journey that included conquering a number of both Czech and world-wide swimming records, including a record attempt at the English Channel. Yvetta’s story is also one to give you goose bumps when you realize everything she has written is true, down to the smallest detail… Where did Yvetta get her strength to push boundaries up to and beyond the limits of human capabilities?

Read Yvetta’s book and discover how even you can achieve what may seem impossible!

The book includes a range of
full-colour photographs from
Yvetta’s life and professional
career.

This book will motivate you to conquer your challenges!

"I stood and watched Michael. He appeared extremely agitated, and as soon as he saw that I was paying attention to him, he stated, 'This is your once-in-a-lifetime chance to break the world record! Once in a lifetime!'

The world had stopped. I understood he was right. He meant it.

When he fell silent, I nodded to show that I understood, and dived silently into the sea once more…

You cannot imagine what I felt. My feelings were swayed between thoughts of dying and an incredible desire to fight. I felt so sick that I couldn’t remember ever feeling worse. I sobbed into the water and cried in desperation.

How was I supposed to succeed? I couldn’t eat nor drink. I had vomited repeatedly over the last three hours, I was losing blood, had severe pain in my stomach, and was trembling all over. This is how I was supposed to beat the world record? How was I to do that? [...]

Suddenly it hit me. A thought crossed my mind. I remembered the word Ruda had told me. How could I forget it?

With every stroke I repeated it in my head… I picked up speed and accelerated my pace like a machine. It felt as if it was someone else, not me, doing the swimming. [...]

The timer stopped.

A new world record: 7 hours, 25 minutes and 16 seconds..."

Your boundaries lie exactly where you think they are.

Yvetta Hlaváčová Tulip

Yvetta’s autobiography follows her life story, from her first splashes in her hometown’s public pool to her successes and failures later in life, all the way to the birth of a world champion. Her story doesn’t end there. Rather, that’s where it all began for a second time…

The heroine of this book is not an action superhero. She is a real woman of flesh and blood, and she tells her story truthfully, right down to the last detail.

Where did this woman get the strength to keep breaking the limits of human capabilities?

What kept her going when continuing seemed out of the question?

What helped her feel like a champion even when she didn’t reach the podium, or when her limits were tested by fate? How did she feel when she encountered envy and narrowmindedness?

“Rebelka” (Rebellious) is such a powerful story you won’t be able to put the book down. It will make you think about your own life goals and inspire you to make the first steps towards achieving them, urging you to stay on track. Her book will keep you entertained and make you laugh. You will want to cheer Yvetta on as she competes, and you will cry and rejoice with her as she stands triumphant over those who oppose her, including even herself at times.

The book is not only a chronicle of Yvetta's swimming and competitive career, but also a compelling story full of wisdom and insights that only living the life of a rebellious sportswoman can bring. In the author’s own words: "At times I felt like I was not on the path to victory, but on the way to some kind of enlightenment. Swimming was just a pretext for growing up - a path to understanding and self-discovery. I believe that to be our ultimate challenge: evolving into a mature individual.”

"I did not care to win, but I wanted swimming to bring me joy and contentment. I wanted to enjoy it.”

Yvetta Hlaváčová Tulip

Yvetta Tulip on herself:

"From a young age, I had a desire to be world-class; to have a goal in life with a world-wide dimension. I was not satisfied with excelling only at the national level. Why should I have been? Just embarking on the journey towards my world-class ambitions was making me happy.

It was not about proving myself to the world, nor was it about rivalry and competition. It was a desire, determination, and a thirst for knowledge. Regardless of whether the journey was difficult, painful, or full of obstacles, I wanted to understand my true nature and go after my dream... It was about setting a goal to shape and move me forward... The challenges and near-impossible tasks were making me happy and gave me purpose in life."

THE ENGLISH CHANNEL

Still as a single woman with her maiden name, Yvetta Hlaváčová made three attempts at swimming the English Channel. On her first attempt in 2005, she set the overall Czech national record.

A year later in 2006, during her attempt to cross the Channel twice, she set a new world record for the one-way crossing with a time of 7: 25:15. This was also an improvement on her last year’s absolute Czech record. On the second leg of her crossing, she reached the 80th kilometre and had been swimming for fourteen hours with only ten kilometres to go to make it to the English shore, when she ended her attempt. (By this point, her time was still attacking the record time for a double swim across the Channel).

It suffices to say that she was extremely unwell for twelve out of the fourteen hours of her swim. Later, it became clear that she had also suffered fatigue fractures in her the ribs.

In 2007, she made her third attempt to conquer the Channel. She swam the third fastest time in history and became the only female swimmer in the world to swim the Channel twice in under 8 hours. 

As the holder of national records in the shortest as well as the longest swimming disciplines (50 m and 25 km), Yvetta is a multitalented swimmer. She also succeeded in winning a World Cup in both the indoor pool (in the sprint discipline) and in open-water marathon swimming. To date, no other female swimmer has managed this achievement.

It is also noteworthy to state that Yvetta founded the first private Czech swimming club and she achieved some of her world results under this club’s banner. Her autobiography is unique and unparalleled in the world of sport.

GALLERY

Contact

Yvetta Hlaváčová Tulip