Swimmers to jump in Bosphorus for Cross-Continental Race
Former Dutch swimming great, Inge De Bruijn, will be in Istanbul to promote the event, following in the footsteps of swimming legends Mark Spitz and Ian Thorpe.Hundreds of people will jump into the Bosphorus, the straight that divides Asia and Europe, for the 26th edition of the Cross-Continental Swimming Race, which will be held in Istanbul on July 20.
A total of 1,730 swimmers are registered for this year’s competition, which will bring together sports enthusiasts for what is known as “the only inter-continental swimming race in the world.”
This year, the swimmers will have a high-profile individual to cheer them on. Former Dutch swimming great, Inge De Bruijn, will be in Istanbul to promote the event, following in the footsteps of swimming legends Mark Spitz and Ian Thorpe who promoted the event in past years.
De Bruijn will swim for an exhibition round on July 19, but come race time, she will not be competing. “I am a born sprinter,” the four-time Olympic gold medalist said in a press conference on July 18.
Although she retired from competitive swimming in 2007, De Bruijn is still training hard at the age of 40, practicing two to three hours a day. “As a sprinter, [the course] is a little bit too far for me,” De Bruijn said regarding the 6.5-kilometer route.
“Not many people remember, but I have golden memories in Istanbul,” De Bruijn said, referring to the double gold and one silver medal that she won at the European Championship in 1999. Since then, she has come to Turkey several times, and not just for competitions, but also for vacations.
“I am really excited to be back in Turkey … I really appreciate this race. It’s a unique experience. I haven’t seen anything like it,” De Bruijn said the event.
Her presence in Istanbul is not limited to an exhibition round of swimming, as the Turkish National Olympic Committee (TMOK), which organized the race, has arranged for members of the potential 2016 Turkish Olympic swimming squad to meet the Dutch swimmer. “[The Turkish swimmers] will be able to get to know the Olympic feel beforehand,” said TMOK’s Nihat Usta, head of the race organizing committee.
On July 20, the race commences at 8:30 a.m. from Kanlıca, the Asian side of Istanbul, and will finish at Kuruçeşme, on the other side of the city.
The Bosphorus will be closed to boats during the course of the race and all safety measures, including ambulance boats and jet-skis, will present in the case of any safety or health-related issues occurring.
“The race has many good stories, especially with loyal participants [taking part in the event],” Usta said, referring to Levent Aksüt, an 84-year-old participant in the event. The veteran, who also participated in commercials by the race sponsor Samsung, has participated in every one of the past 25 editions of the event, except for one year when he was abroad. “My best finish was 143rd, or 600th, whatever … I don’t swim for the race. I swim for the pleasure,” Aksüt said.