Marathon Swimmer of the Century: Abou Heif

Marathon Swimmer of the Century: Abou Heif

Abdellatief Abou Heif was a famed Egyptian professional marathon swimmer who was inducted in the International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame in 1964 and in the International Swimming Hall of Fame in 1998. His nickname was the Crocodile of the Nile who competed from 1948 to 1965. In 1991, he was voted Marathon Swimmer of the Century by the International Swimming Hall of Fame.

Joe Grossman and Abou Heif

Many years ago, Dale Petranech passed on a treasure trove of old hardcover books – some written by a dual inductees in the International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame like Commander Charles Gerald Forsberg, OBE, RN and Johnny Weissmuller and many photographs from the professional marathon swimming races and other solo marathon swimmers in the 1950’s and 1960’s.

Some of the photographs and background information were compiled by Joe Grossman (1925-1974, shown above with Abou-Heif), a promoter and administrator/secretary of the World Professional Marathon Swimming Federation and the International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame. Grossman was inducted in the International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame in 1979 as an Honor Administrator and honored with the inaugural 1970 Irving Davids / Captain Roger W. Wheeler Memorial Award for Meritorious Service to Long Distance Swimming.

Grossman wrote the initial draft of the book A History of Marathon Swimming that was eventually written and published in 2018 by Steve Walker. The book was nominated for the 2018 World Open Water Swimming Offering of the Year.

Abou Heif walking onshore after winning the 86.5 km Lake Michigan in 24 hours 42 minutes with his wife and ISHOF Gold Medallion recipient Jim Moran.

Photo above shows Abou Heif after the 24 Heures La Tuque race with Horacio Iglesias, another IMSHOF and ISHOF dual inductee.

The top photo shows Abou Heif with undefeated heavyweight boxing champion of the world Rocky Marciano.

Copyright © 2008 – 2022 by World Open Water Swimming Association

Steven Munatones