21 Kilometers On June 21
21 Kilometers On June 21Courtesy of WOWSA.
Windermere, the biggest lake in England, Lake Biwa, the biggest lake in Japan, Lake Michigan, the biggest lake in America, Poyang Lake, the largest lake in China, Lake Baikal, the biggest lake in Russia, and Lake Taupo, the largest lake in New Zealand, have all been crossed and hold open water swims. in 4 hours and 30 minutes.
Add the Sea of Galilee, also known as the Lake of Gennesaret, Lake Kinneret and Tiberias Lake (Hebrew: ים כנרת, Arabic: بحيرة طبرية), the largest lake in Israel, to the mix.
On June 21, 25 men and 6 women crossed the 21K Kinneret, under the leadership of Gadi Katz.
The group finished between 10-11 hours under calm, warm conditions, starting at 3:15 am from Tzemach Beach in the south to Amnon Beach in the north.
What drove these individuals? Ami Ginsburg, one of the swimmers, explained, “When I’m in the water, I listen to my body. My mother and sisters do meditation. I prefer to plow through the depths. This is my form of relaxation. I have always envied the cyclists and runners who combine their sport with being in the open air. I have also envied their ability to experience somewhat bigger challenges such as thrilling marathon runs or rides through breathtaking scenery. That, essentially, was how the the challenge of swimming the length of Lake Kinneret came into being.”
Ami explained how the transformation from the pool to a marathon swim. “Ladders are climbed from the bottom. Before I swam the lake’s length, I had better swim its width 9K from Tiberias to Ein Gev. To determine whether we were capable of doing the long haul, we decided to hold a training session at sea. At the end of November a group of us 7.5K in just under two and a half hours.”
Gadi, who is a passionate open water enthusiast, talked about his goals for open water swimming in Israel. “I would like open water swimming to be as popular in Israel as in the United States or Australia. There is some kind of swim organized every weekend in the summer months in a sea, lake or river. We have 190 kilometers of amazing shoreline with convenient temperatures for swimming year round, and a big lake of fresh, warm water. There is no reason why properly run open water clubs cannot be established along the entire shoreline. There is no reason why Israeli swimming aficionados should not be able to choose a swim of some kind to participate in practically every Saturday.”
Gadi organized a large escort boat and three kayaks to guide the swimmers on between 18-24 minute-per-kilometer pace, swimming together in two groups for 50 minutes and then taking a five-minute break for fueling and hydrating. The slower group started two hours before the faster group with the idea that the groups would finish nearly together. It was important that everyone finished the swim.
The swimmers all encountered their ups and downs throughout the swim, but they al finished between noon and 1 pm. Elated and sunburned, the success only fueled greater dreams.
As Gadi wrote later, “Next year we’re doing the Kinneret across and back – 42 kilometers. Marathon. Who’s in?“
Ami‘s full description of the event is here.
Photo by Nir Keidar.
Copyright © 2008 – 2010 by World Open Water Swimming Association
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