Edna Borenstein In The Channel

Edna Borenstein In The Channel

Courtesy of WOWSA, Huntington Beach, California.

In 1956, Tom Park came back and shared the winning prize with Ireland’s Jack McClelland for swimming the furthest in the 4th Billy Butlin’s International Cross-Channel Swimming Race, but the swim was called off after 11 hours due to poor weather and water conditions.

Swimmers of the 1956 Cross-Channel race included [see above] 1 Jack McClelland (32 years old from Belfast), 2 Jack Cloutier (24 years from Canada, 3 Dogan Sahin (25 years from Turkey), 4 Ronald Tarr (19 year from London), 5 Clarence Conza (33 years from New Zealand), 6 Ian Tirrell (33 years from South Africa), 7 Erik Martin (53 years from Sweden), 8 Jenny James (28 years from Wales), 9 Maria Meesters (17 years from Holland), 10 Baptista Pereira (35 years from Portugal), 11 Margaret Sweeney (26 years from New Zealand), 12 Greta Anderson (29 years from Denmark), 13 Elizabeth Wild (22 years from New Zealand), 14 Florence Burdett (27 years from America), 15 Diana Cleverley (22 years from New Zealand), 16 Brenda Fisher (28 years from Grimsby), 17 Thomas Park (32 years from California), 18 Harold Bracewell (47 years from Blackpool), 19 Edward (Ned) Barnie (59 years from Scotland), 20 Arthur Rizzo (28 years from Malta), 21 Mohammed El Soussi (28 years from Syria), 22 Fredrick Oldman (40 years from Huddersfield), 23 Mihir Zen (27 years from India), 24 Alfredos Camarero (25 years from Argentina). Toufic Bleik (25 years from Lebanon), Kurt Feilen (30 years from Germany), John Healey (29 years from Ireland), and Edna Borenstein (19 years from Israel).

The 1956 race was so tough that 14 escort pilots turned back without attempting to land. Some thought that the race should not have even been started under the prevailing weather conditions. 8 swimmers started, but none were successful.

The next year’s race in 1957 was not much better. Greta Andersen, a 1948 Olympic gold and silver medalist in pool swimming, battled the world’s best men in many professional marathon swims around the world and won this race – and then followed it up with another victory in 1958. During the 1957 race, the conditions were also difficult – only two swimmers finished with Andersen finishing in 13 hours 53 minutes over England’s Ken Wray in 16 hours.

Highlights of the race can be viewed here.

There was one teenager –  Edna Borenstein from Israel – who participated in both races.

In 1954 she got her first taste of marathon swimming. At the age of 17, she crossed the 20.5 km Sea of Galilee from north to south in Israel in 9 hours 20 minutes. In the 5th edition in 1957 even though she did not complete the 33.5 km crossing, she was awarded third place based on her position in the water at the time the swim was called off. In her third attempt of crossing the English Channel, she withdrew from the  6th Butlin International Cross Channel Swimming Race.

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Steven Munatones