The Inspiring Journey of Shadia El Rageb Egypt’s First Female Inductee into the International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame
In this interview, Ned Denison, Chair of the International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame interviews Shadia El Rageb, an Egyptian open water swimmer who made history as the first and only Egyptian woman to be inducted into the International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame.
Shadia started swimming at the age of eight, initially focusing on shorter distances, and became a champion in 100 and 400 medley. She was encouraged by her coach to swim longer distances as she had the potential for it. Her journey in open water swimming started in the late 1960s when she began competing in international races. Her talent for the sport quickly became apparent as she won multiple races, including the International Turkey Swim in 1968 and the 30 km International Bulgaria Swim in 1969, 1970 and 1971.
In 1970, Shadia participated in the Maratona del Golfo Capri-Napoli, a grueling 32 km (20-mile) race in Italy. Although she did not win, she finished in an impressive second place behind Judith de Nijs. The following year, she returned to the same race and emerged victorious, a feat she repeated in 1972 and 1973.
Shadia’s most successful year in open water swimming was undoubtedly 1971 when she went undefeated in all her international races. She won the World Professional Marathon Swimming Federation championship in both 1971 and 1972, cementing her position as one of the world’s top marathon swimmers.
In addition to her individual accomplishments, Shadia was also a part of the winning team in the 24 Heures La Tuque relay in Canada. Her achievements in the sport of open water swimming have made her a legend in the field and an inspiration to aspiring swimmers around the world.
Despite the limited recognition of women in the sport during her time, Shadia’s incredible talent and dedication to open water swimming have earned her a place in history and as a pioneering female open water swimmer will continue to inspire generations of swimmers to come.
Watch the interview
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