Galilee Marathon Swimming Association Launched

Galilee Marathon Swimming Association Launched

Galilee Marathon Swimming Association Launched

Courtesy of Guy Cohen and Eyal Schachner, Galilee Marathon Swimming Association, Sea of Galilee, Israel.

Guy Cohen and Eyal Schachner of the Galilee Marathon Swimming Association announced, “We are excited to announce the new and first marathon swimming association in Israel. Our website is up and running, the association is ready to register swimmers for the 2020 seasons, spring and fall.

Swim in the Sea of Galilee, the lowest freshwater lake in the world, the most familiar body of water in the Bible, the seat of the tribes of Israel, the place where Jesus walked on water and from where the gospels were later spread by the 12 messengers who lived by its shores, and where so many other stories and events occurred throughout history.

It is the source of freshwater for the entire region and symbolizes hope and peace on earth. It is also the crossing point between the northern European continent and the East African Savannas for migrating birds.

We, as marathon swimmers, have the privilege and duty to serve as ambassadors of goodwill by way of this majestic lake and to foster the quest for peace among nations. By swimming in this breathtaking lake, one amplifies this message.

Those who understand the uniqueness and complexity of the Sea of Galilee can serve as a beacon for others to come to this hallowed location. So many over the course of history have wanted a small piece of this sea and have struggled mightily to achieve this end. We reach out to you with open hands and warm hearts to partake in this endeavor

Crossing the full length of the lake is 20.5 km or 12.7 miles between Capernaum in the north to Zemach in the south – or vice versa. Crossing the width of the lake is also possible and can be arranged upon request, a distance of 10 km between Tiberius and Ein-Gev.

The first marathon swim ever documented in the Sea of Galilee was on October 28th 1944 by Yitzhak Yehezkel (1921-2010) from Tel-Aviv. He was the first to swim the full length of the lake in a time of 9 hours 39 minutes. He twice returned to repeat his unprecedented swim across the Sea of Galilee: in 1953 in 10 hours 18 minutes, and in 1955 in 8 hours 33 minutes. Between 1943 and 1968, Yehezkel competed in 10 successive 9.5 km swim races across the Sea of Galilee from Ein-Gev to Tiberias.

Malka Tenenbaum (born 1937) and Edna Borenstein (born 1937) became the first women to swim the length of the lake. On October 23th 1954, they set off in a tandem swim. Towards the end of their swim, it was Tenebaum who set the pace and finished 20 minutes ahead of Borenstein in a time of 9 hours 20 minutes.

In the past, owing to the lack of a governing body and local know-how, not many swims were undertaken and documented in the Sea of Galilee. In recent years, with the growing popularity of open water swimming in Israel, crossing the length of the Kinneret has regained its place as a challenge for local open water swimmers in their training programs for other international crossing challenges, and also for swimmers coming from abroad to experience the lake with all its beauty and fame.

Today, The Galilee Marathon Swimming Association provides all necessary information and contacts to approved boat operators, and supplies qualified observers to verify that all rules of marathon swimming are kept, that swims are ratified, and that the database of the swims is maintained.

The Galilee MSA was co-founded in December 2019 by Guy Cohen and Eyal Schachner, two accomplished Israeli open water swimmers. Other members of the Association include Avishag Turek, Alon Korek, Yaron Davidi, Fabrice Beer-Gabel, Gad Baruch, Oded Rahav, Amit Potashnik, and others.

With the help of the Galilee Marathon Swimming Association, swim crossings can be arranged throughout most of the year, although summer months are not advised because of the higher water and air temperatures. Preferred swim months are from October to December and from April to June. Winter swims are possible as-well.

Water temperatures range between 16°C in the winter (February) to 32°C in the summer (July-August). In the fall and spring, the temperatures range between a comfortable 20°C to 26°C. The Association will not support swims if water temperatures are higher than 29°C.

Wind conditions around the lake area vary daily and could be a reason for postponing a swim. It is advised to arrange a window of opportunity (5 days), rather than a single day, when planning a swim.

There are many hotels in the city of Tiberius and in the villages surrounding the lake to accommodate guests year-round. It is easy to book accommodation in advance.

The general role of the Association is to be a supportive and governing body for the challenging activities of marathon swimming in Israel. The Association is recognized by international bodies to approve, document and publish independent or organized marathon swims conducted in Israel and to maintain international open water marathon databases.

The association adopts the Marathon Swimming Rules as drafted and published by the Marathon Swimmers Federation, also known as the “Channel Swimming Rules” (English Channel).

The goals of the Galilee Marathon Swimming Association are:

• To maintain the knowledge of marathon swimming in Israel
• To serve as a local resource for rules and information about marathon swimming
• To approve results and to officially document and publish course results of marathon swims conducted in coordination with and under the supervision of the Association
• To provide a platform for public discussions and inquiries concerning marathon swimming in Israel
• To conduct training and certify observers to observe, document and verify marathon swims
• To advocate for clean waters and improve the coastal and marine environment in Israel
• To acknowledge prominent swimmers and activists in the field of marathon swimming in Israel

For more information, visit

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Steven Munatones