In August, Istanbul hosted the 32nd Bosporus Cross-Continental Swimming Race. The event was organised by the Turkish National Olympic Committee. Elena Korelskaya, a lecturer from the Faculty of Journalism of Voronezh State University, participated in the competition. In total, 1,765 athletes braved the race.
“For me, like for many other swimmers, it was a dream of a lifetime to take part in this swimming race. The thing is, it is not that easy to get permission to enter the competition: the number of foreign swimmers is limited. This year, there were only 200 slots for athletes from Russia. The sale of the ballot entries starts on night of the 3rd to the 4th of January and usually finishes in just 5 minutes. I’d tried to buy it for 5 years and only the 6th year I finally succeeded. The current situation made it more difficult to train before the race: all swimming pools were closed most of the time and the race was put off from mid June to the end of August. As soon as it got warm enough, I moved to my dacha and started to train by myself: I went jogging in the morning and swam upstream every day. Such challenges help you boost your willpower and determination. Finally, it was the end of August and I went to the incredible city of Istanbul to make my dream come true,” said Elena Korelskaya.
The event was held without any spectators due to the coronavirus outbreak. All the necessary coronavirus precautions recommended by national and international health organisations were taken during the race. Athletes started at the Kanlica pier on Istanbul's Asian side and finished the 6.5-kilometre course at Cemil Topuzlu Park in Kurucesme on the European side.
“My goal was to finish the race within 1:15:00. And my result was even better: 1:09:53. I was right in the middle of the tournament table. It is a great pleasure to take part in such events. I achieved what I wanted, I managed to get prepared under challenging conditions, and I reached my goal. When I finished the race, I couldn’t help but stay on the platform and watch others finish. I was both crying and smiling at the same time while congratulating them. I was overcome with happiness. Then, I saw my name on a big screen and realised that what I’d done was a big deal.”
There are some interesting stories to tell as well. Elena told us about some of the other competitors:
“One of the athletes was a man with the number 0002 on his swimming cap, which showed his ranking. It turns out that the swimmer was 83 years old and his wife was 74. And it was their 13th race across the Bosporus. He encouraged me by saying that he took part in his first Bosporus race at 70. It was his words that were on my mind all the time while I was swimming: “This isn’t frightening at all and it is a sheer joy!” And I absolutely agree with him. It is a sheer joy to swim across the strait, the heart of the sea route, surrounded by the beautiful and hospitable city with its fortresses, greenery, mosques, and auburn buildings. There is a moment when you feel like slowing down to have a look at this beautiful scenery from the water.”