How Mindaugas and Nikolaj conquered Gibraltar: Part 1

2019 09 24 · 3 min read
Authors: Mindaugas Gaurys, Nikolaj Anikejev

By overcoming challenges, we step out of our comfort zone, learn something new and grow at the same time. Some competitions require less time and patience, others more, but no doubt all of them bring positive changes into our lives. Participating in your favorite activity with the teammates is something that moves you forward and inspires you to face even bigger challenges.

This time we are sharing the intro to Mindaugas and Nikolaj adventures in Gibraltar.


I will start with a brief introduction. I’m Mindaugas Gaurys, a longtime BA employee, working in Progress team. Many years ago, I was a professional swimmer, today I am just a sports lover.

My colleague with whom we are facing the challenge of Gibraltar is Nikolaj Anikejev. A man who is involved in many sports, participating in marathons, triathlons, both with his family, who also loves sports, and on his own. Anyway, he will tell more about himself.

In the end of February of 2019, we received an offer to swim across the Strait of Gibraltar. Does it sound like an adventure? Well, it’s up to you.
And it all started like this…

I remember spring of 2015: the second BA Challenge (our internal initiative), lots of excitement in the office… Different activities, points system, everyone involved and enthusiastic. Interest in running increased badly – who would run faster, longer, who would buy nicer shoes and everything like that. Some quietly prepared for running a marathon. And then, Nikolaj joined our BA family. When he came to sign the contract, rumors had it that he has already finished a marathon. Well, I thought, a marathon… I’m struggling to run 10 kilometers and he’s already run a marathon.

I was drinking coffee with my other colleague, Aleksandr K., I said:

– The new admin has been hired. Is it true that he has run a marathon?
– “Yeah, yeah,” Aleksandr replied to me, “You’ll become friends with him, you’ll see.”

Well, I didn’t say anything at that moment, but we immediately found a common language with Nikolaj. I am also a swimming fan, so we talked about sports and so on.

On a late spring day, Nikolaj offered to go to the Green Lakes. He would train, I will watch his stuff, and if there is going to be warm weather – maybe I’d swim too after a hard day at work. We came late at the lake that night, maybe at 8 o’clock… No people, cold, mosquitoes were attacking us. Nikolaj, of course, jumped in his hydro suit and deep dived into the water.
Well, I thought, I’d froze here if I would stay longer on the shore. One small nuance – I did not have a hydro suit. While Nikolaj was swimming 1.5 km on the edge of Gulbin Lake, I murmured at the lake. Frozen feet, frozen hands, frozen ears… After that, I waited about 10 minutes before Nikolaj finally had finished his workout. When I asked if a colleague didn’t freeze, I remember exactly, the answer was “well, probably…” We had picked things up and went home, where we had a warm shower, hot tea and dinner.

In fact, at that moment, I didn’t want to swim at all, I was a running enthusiast at that time and just wanted to take a part in all BA Challenge activities. I had bought new shoes – ASICS salad color… they matched with the white socks very nicely. Anyway, I supported Nikolaj, sometimes we went to the Green Lakes, I “kept the keys on his car”, he trained and shared his swimming experience both in the open water and in the pool. He taught me how to run in winter, how to keep my throat warm, what to wear.

I do not know when Nikolaj started to plan the swimming through Bosporus strait, but his offer came to me quite unexpectedly, at the beginning of autumn of 2015. He just asked me – “Are you in?” I obviously had a lot of questions and doubts, even though Nikolai had “googled” everything. So, I rejected this offer because, as I said before, I still didn’t want to swim…

Well, Nikolaj had been preparing for half a year and in July of 2016, he overcame the Bosporus strait.


Before telling a story of our adventure, I will briefly introduce myself – I am Nikolaj Anikejev. I have been working at BA for 4 years and every day I feel that wonderful Enjoy IT – working, celebrating or exercising. Mindaugas has already mentioned, but yes – we managed to join 24 crazy ones that swim through Gibraltar strait this fall. Now I’ll tell you briefly what happened after I came to BA and what was my path to this big swim. From my perspective.

When I started working at BA in 2015, I had already finished several marathons, including one of 6 (at that time 5) gold marathons in the world – Berlin’s 40th in 2013. I have always been passionate about sports, just at that time there weren’t many friends who were very serious into running.

I have met the BA running team more than once before. My friend Aleksandr promised that I would definitely enjoy it. Well, he didn’t make a mistake, I liked it. A lot. There were So many people who not only work together but also exercise, compete in the BA Challenge and celebrate together, I have never seen such a team anywhere else.

I can’t even tell you when the idea of swimming came… I was swimming regularly when I was you younger, so I thought that I just had to remember those skills. Well, you know, like bike riding. As events unfold, I should say no, it doesn’t work like that.

In the summer of 2015, I realized that my goal for the next year would be the Bosporus strait – swimming from Asia to Europe, Istanbul. I thought it would be really easy for me to find a like-minded colleague in BA. Mindaugas is a swimmer – he would definitely agree, I said to myself. At that time, I did not see the enthusiasm in the eyes of my colleagues and Mindaugas refused to join, but I had already promised myself, so there was no way back. A swimming coach has been found, training has begun, a swimming coach has been replaced, training has become more difficult, a request has been sent to the Turkish Olympic Committee, documents and confirmation have been received – yes, I was participating.

The time has passed very quickly. And then, after 200 kilometers of exercise, a lot of hours in the gym, and a few liters of sweat, I was standing in one of the most interesting cities in the world, Asia, looking through the window at the blue water where I needed to swim 6.5 kilometers. I think when I jumped from a boat to the Bosporus strait, I had already imagined where I would be going next time, what the next challenge would be. I just didn’t know how…

And this is how our journey to Gibraltar has begun…