Honor To Jason Zirganos

Courtesy of WOWSA, Huntington Beach, California.

Jason_Zirganos (Greek Ιάσων Ζηργάνος) was initially voted into the International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame in the Class of 1971 under a label Pioneer Swimmer.

Ned Denison of the International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame explains the recent induction designation change. “In 2017, the Executive Committee agreed that his induction was simply a voting mechanism and he is now considered an Honor Swimmer.”

Zirganos was a Greek army major, born in 1910 in Volos, Thessaly, decorated by King Paul in 1949 for being the first Greek ever to swim the English Channel. He saw action in World War II against the Italians and was decorated for valor. He wrote a book called «Πώς πέρασα τη Μάγχη» (How I Spent The Channel).

In 1949, he swam the English Channel for the first time. A year later, he swam the English Channel again, beating his 1949 time by more than two hours (in 16 hours 19 minutes) in the Daily Mail First International Cross English Channel Race. In 1951 he completed the same crossing in 14 hours 1 minute and in 1954, he crossed the English Channel again in 16 hours 23 minutes. In 1957, he crossed the Catalina Channel in 17 hours 0 minutes.

In addition to his five channel crossings, he swam across Lake Windermere in England four times, across the Bosphorus, and down the Nile River. In 1958, he attempted a circumnavigation around Manhattan Island, but was pulled out blue and incoherent after 23 hours.

In 1959 at the age of 49, he died attempting to swim the North Channel from Orlock Head, Co. Down, Ireland to Portpatrick, Scotland when he lost consciousness after swimming for 16 hours 32 minutes. 14 miles from County Down in Northern Ireland, he died despite the efforts of a doctor who cut him open with a penknife to work on his heart.

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Steven Munatones