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The Bosphorus Cross-Continental Swimming Race saw 1765 participants swam from Asia to Europe

On 23 August, Istanbul’s world-famous Bosphorus strait was closed to traffic as 1765 swimmers from around the world participated in the 32nd Bosphorus Cross-Continental Swimming Race. The competition, organised annually since 1989 by the Turkish ENGSO member, the Turkish Olympic Committee (TOC), saw strict social distancing measures taken due to the current global health situation caused by COVID-19.

The Bosphorus Cross-Continental Swimming Race is the only contest in the world which sees competitors swim from Asia to Europe. This year, participants from 34 countries took the plunge. The gruelling 6.5 km race course began in Kanlıca, on the Asian side of Istanbul, and ended in Kuruçeşme Cemil Topuzlu Park on the European side. Hilal Zeynep Saraç (TUR) was crowned champion in the women’s category with a time of 47 minutes 52 seconds, whilst Mustafa Sevenay (TUR) finished first in the men’s category with a time of 46 minutes 1 second.

This competition is one of the best examples of sport’s unifying power. Participants experience a unique race and are then awarded the exclusive title of Cross-Continental Swimmer.

This year’s race took place without spectators due to the strict COVID-19 measures put in place by the organisers. From start to finish, every stage of the race respected social distancing rules and other public health measures aimed at protecting the health and well-being of everyone.

Turkey’s Youth and Sports Minister Mehmet Muharrem Kasapoğlu, Istanbul Deputy Governor Niyazi Erten, Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality Mayor Ekrem İmamoğlu and TOC President Prof. Dr. Uğur Erdener were amongst those in attendance.

Speaking after the completion of the contest, TOC President Prof. Dr. Uğur Erdener said:


“Since March 2020 we find ourselves in difficult circumstances due to the pandemic, which has brought many sectors of our economy, such as business, sport, arts and tourism, to a halt. COVID-19 has also caused the postponement or cancellation of countless sporting events. Our event, which we have successfully organised by taking strict precautions, has become a source of motivation for organisers of international sporting events and sports fans as well as a source of hope for future sports events.”


Participants of the competition. Browse through the gallery by clicking on the arrows. (Photo credits: Turkish Olympic Committee)


This article is based on the press release of the Turkish Olympic Committee.

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