Nejib Belhedi Start Is Best Tunisian Photo Of The Year

Nejib Belhedi Start Is Best Tunisian Photo Of The Year

Courtesy of WOWSA, Huntington Beach, California

Tunisie Numerique selected the start of Nejib Belhedi’s 155 km circumnavigation swim around Djerba Island in Tunisia as its 2020 Photo of the Year.  The photo was taken from shore near Al Kantara right before Belhedi was to start his swim on October 30th.

Belhedi finished 47 hours 50 minutes later on November 1st.  

Belhedi was also selected as Tunisia’s Best Sportsman of the Year, the second time that he has won the national award among all athletic disciplines (first time was in 2013) .

Belhedi described his feelings at the end of his solo swim, “I felt so relaxed and so happy like a kid in the sea.  I was ready for this challenge after preparing physically, planning the logistics, administration, travel, looking for sponsors, organizing and coordinating every step of the swim.  Finishing the swim was the last door for my dream to be realized.  I visualized the swim around Djerba Island.  All things about the swim were very clear to me from the beginning.  I asked myself, ‘Who gives me this force to accept this challenge?’  Without delay, I realized to myself that I have already overcome the big heavy logistic part of the challenge.  I will succeed because I struggled to build the swim stone by stone.  I developed this swim from zero.  I would not achieve it, if I did not plan it.  If the swim was given to me as a free gift on a plate, I would lose the appreciation of its value.

As I finished the swim, I realized that after many years in the sport, I clearly understand there is a relationship between fighting to create the swim and the success of the swim itself.  Hannibal’s journey entered my mind.  His story reminds me how his army arrived weakened when mercenary soldiers were the primary force of Carthage to the detriment of homeland soldiers.  But the native soldiers fiercely defended their own country.

In my neighborhood, there is a similar saying.  The cats in the poor neighborhood are fiercer hunters of big rats than the cats in chic quarters.  I think my body, feeling fresh at the end, is due to the fact that I must be in high physical readiness combined with my knowledge of the sea, my discipline, the specificity of my objective, the overall management and swim strategy, and the gift of my body and spirit given by God.”

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