Ryszard Szewczyk (Świnoujście, PL) wins the Barcelona national in Poland

This year I have followed the Barcelona results with the greatest of interest. In doing this apart from the amazing success of those participants I would like to point in the direction of Eastern Europe to shine a light on other amazing feats.

Rsyzard Szewczyk

We here in the west of Europe pay little attention, for the most part to what is happening further abroad in the pigeon world. When I heard the Polish birds were being clocked on the fourth evening after liberation I was blown away. These determined little balls of feather had the tenacity to continue for four or more straight days to arrive at their homes for the love of their owners and homes.

This year’s Polish national winner is Ryszard Szewczyk. He is from the small seaside town of Świnoujście. Ryszard became interested in pigeons at the tender age of fourteen. At this age he didn’t compete at all in race competition but had an avid interest in our feathered friends. It was a great thing for him to watch and care for his pigeons. As we all do he grew up, moved to a new city and got a job. Through all this still in the back of his mind was pigeons. Always there brewing his interest more and more. Some time later he had the opportunity to start again with pigeons and this gave him a sense of joy and relaxation, which he feels we all need. For him, he would describe it as doing something you love to do and he wishes everyone could have that self-same satisfaction. At first Ryszard lived in the country side, not far from where he lives now. In his opinion two very different worlds. Country vs. city life. In the city everything is go, go, go. Whereas in the country there is a more sedate pace to life.

Ryszard remembers racing in Poland in the past where the maximum distances raced were up to 750 km. At the time in the past it was still a time where you had to catch your bird and run to the nearest clock where your bird's rubber would be removed and the bird then timed in. Now the races are from France, Germany, Belgium and Spain. As well as this, he sees how much clocks have improved over the years, like we all have, with the change to ETS over recent years occurring in Poland as well. Nutrition for our pigeons is also something he thinks has improved. Now with mixes the nutritional improvement helps the birds and aids with more stamina. In the past he says that pigeon racing was treated like a hobby but it is seen now as real sport. There is a down side to this progress in society. With more and more chemicals in the environment he believes that this effects not only us but all living creatures, including our beloved racers.

The wing of the Barcelona winner

When we look at racing, the most memorable moments for Ryszard are many. In his eye the best feelings and memories are those of all his birds returning. Seeing them home, no matter the distance, gives him the encouragement to continue with racing and keeping his birds.

Over the years Ryszard has had gift birds from friends and agrees that they are a mixed lot. With these exchanges with friends are new introductions constantly meaning that the birds are always developing into a family. He likes to see them mature and become old birds racing as this is what gives the fancier good memories of his birds and what they have achieved for him. Ryzard is extremely satisfied with his present family of birds. Over the years they have been successful in winning a lot of trophies and diplomas for him. Yes along the way there have been some failures, however overall he is proud of his birds. Racing longer distances is more interesting for Ryszard. He says sprint and middle distances are good also. His feeling is that as the distance increases so does the amazement and incredible feats our birds can achieve and this increases the excitement for the fancier. He did have a time where sprint racing had its appeal on him. Now though the preference is for the greater distances. Such that they are marathon distances covered from Barcelona to Poland.

The aviary

This year 524 fanciers from Poland sent 1,276 birds to the Barcelona International Race to be released with a convoy of over 19,000 other birds from all over Europe. To this Ryszard sent his three hopefuls to compete in the marathon journey home from this epic of races. The day of his bird arriving from Barcelona, Ryszard says he will remember for the rest of his life. It was a shock for him when he saw his bird arrive. He picked her up and ran directly to his car not even thinking about the mess of the car she could make. Still not thinking about things he was shocked more when his phone started to go and people were calling him with congratulations. Ryszard is extremely proud of his bird's achievement and of his participation in this achievement. That his hard work and perseverance has paid off in such a way is an understatement. The hen herself although a little stressed from the arduous task involved in negotiating its way home on the trek from Barcelona avoiding all the inherent dangers en-route. This, above all else, he believes shows how his bird is a champion. Ryszard believes that birds understand us and that this is why they gain success for us. That they work for the person who cares for them and where they feel safe, this he feels is why they work their way home from such distances. The hen is now named Champion Bartuś. There are several young birds in the loft from her and hopefully these may follow in her footsteps.

Preparation for the Barcelona race this year involved, for Ryszard, making sure that his birds had the right nutrition and were fit and healthy. Ryszard uses water infused with young nettle and willow or oak  bark. He says this improves the birds condition and provides more for stamina. He provides a stress free environment with a view to giving a sense of security to his birds. If we empathize with our birds, Ryszard believes they respond better and will give their all to do their best. Apart from this a clean loft and regular bathing is allowed with prepared water.

In sending this year’s entries there is always the doubt that the birds will not make it home. This year however there was a lot of confidence from Ryszard that Champion Bartuś would make it home. His first time entering the Barcelona race was only in 2014 where he was successful also with a respectable 53rd National and 34th in his Area B from races 1600 to 1800 km. Ryszard has the bug for international racing now and will continue to strive for success in this arena.

In closing this article I would like to offer my warmest congratulations to Ryszard on his success not only this year but also in last year’s international from Barcelona. I know that with these successes he can only be driven more and more to succeed at these marathon distances. I am so impressed with this performance pigeon that I have secured four youngsters from her from this year's breeding. I am extremely looking forward to their arrival. For me it has been a pleasure compiling this article for the fancy in the UK and Ireland as well as the rest of the world. It gives much credit to the tenacity of our feathered friends. Also this article would not have been possible without the help of Ryszard’s son Patryk who acted as translator throughout this process. So a big thank you to both you Patryk and your dad for making this article possible.


Quelle performance je dois dire !

Ce pigeon a vraiment du mérite. Braver glorieusement mille périples pour rejoindre son colombier à une distance considérée comme la plus extrême sur cette étape Catalane.

Chapeau bas pour cette magistrale performance Monsieur Szewczyk !

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