Hundreds swim in Bosphorus waters in Intercontinental Race

Hundreds swim in Bosphorus waters in Intercontinental Race

ISTANBUL - Hürriyet Daily News
Hundreds swim in Bosphorus waters in Intercontinental Race

More than 1,000 swimming enthusiats participate to the Intercontinental Bosphorus Race, setting a new record for the event’s 24-year history. Swimming legend Spitz (L3) poses after presenting the awards to the top three of the men’s 60+ race (inset). DAILY NEWS photo, Hasan ALTINIŞIK

More than 1,100 people including politicians, artists and professional athletes from 41 countries swam from “Asia to Europe” in the Intercontinental Bosphorus Race yesterday.

The race, dubbed as “the only intercontinental swimming race in the world,” spanned a course from Kanlıca on the Asian side of Istanbul to Kuruçesme on the European side. Competitors finished the 6.5-kilometer swim across Istanbul’s Bosphorus Strait in nearly an hour. The winners were awarded their medals in seven different age groups and in men’s and women’s categories.

Swimming great Mark Spitz, U.S. Ambassador to Ankara Francis J. Ricciardone, Turkey’s former minister Kürşat Tüzmen and some Istanbul district mayors were among the racers. Ricciardone said the race route was “magnificent.”

“Since my youth, I’ve desired to swim in the Bosphorus and for the first time I made that wish a reality today,” Ricciardone said.

A group of 17 people from the U.S. Embassy attended the race as well. The U.S. Istanbul Consulate’s Consul General Scott Kilner said this was his second time swimming in the Intercontinental Swimming race. He said he hoped to participate in the race next year as well.

Ricciardone and Kilner said the wind and tide were both fine for swimming.

Işıl Eğrikavuk, Hürriyet Daily News’ news bureau editor, competed in the race for the first time and said “to swim in the Bosphorus was an experience of a lifetime.”

“I thought it would be hard to swim from the Asian side to the European side, but it’s not difficult at all. Swimming across the Bosphorus gives you such a view, it was the chance of a lifetime and I suggest everyone join next year,” Eğrikavuk said.

Competitors began their watery sojourn from the Asian shore in the district of Kanlıca and cross the strait to reach Kuruçeşme, a route that can be hindered or helped by the water’s forceful current. The course is a scenic one, passing under the Fatih Sultan Mehmet Bridge, alongside the Rumeli Hisarı fortress, past riverfront towns and the countless fishermen who line the Bosphorus.

One third of participants were foreigners involved with National Olympic Committee of Turkey (TMOK).

Spitz said this organization was a promise for Turkey’s 2020 Olympics bid. “Considering all the other works held for the 2020 Olympics this organization is a serious promise of Istanbul. I am here to lend my support to Turkey. Promoting such events is a way to help people raise their standard of living,” Siptz said according to a report by Anatolia news agency.

Turkish swimmer Umut Doğan, 35, said nothing went wrong in the race and this was a great opportunity for amateurs to swim with pros.

“I am an electrical engineer and have been swimming for three years. Swimming with Spitz was a great memory for me,” he said.

The races first started in 1989 with the participation of four female and 64 male swimmers and became more and more popular every year.