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Tuesday, December 18, 2012

A Peaceful End To The 1400K Swim Across Tunisia

Nejib Belhedi completed his final stage of the 1400K Swim Across Tunisia on December 15th. Started amid the political turmoil and social upheaval in 2011, and continued through unimaginable problems and, at times, with armed escorts. The Swim of Peace was fueled by Belhedi's relentless persistence and emotional drive over the past year. He never gave up hope when the swim often seemed an impossibility.

His final stage - the Ashtart stage broadcast on national television - ended ceremoniously off the Tunisian coast in international waters on top the podium of Ashtart Black Gold in the Gulf of Gabes.

It was a wonderful conclusion to his marathon Swim of Peace with the giant petroleum platforms as his final stage. Along the way of his 1400K stage swim, Belhedi befriended many young and old of Tunisian society. He was feted by both the powerless and the powerful where it ended on the Al Wataniya television news.

"Black gold was reconciled with a single human swimming in water," exclaimed Belhedi. "The giant industrial edifices were married with a small swimmer fueled by the will of the Tunisian people. We will find a harmonious mix to become an eco-friendly country on our way to development and democracy.

The force of the Swim of Peace is this universal idea which possesses a noble soft power. This experience shows that the goal creates the means. I started this goal of swimming the entire coast of Tunisia without means of support, but I was powered by self-determination and a deep faith to serve others for a noble cause. This effort generated the means to succeed.

Belhedi was supported by the Société de Recherche et d'Exploitation des Petrole Tunisiens, its partner ETAP of Tunisia, and OMV of Austria. "They gave me the exceptional opportunity to swim to the Ashtart Petroleum field. I'm impressed by the tight security that was evident on the platforms as a global system. I also did not see one drop of fuel in the sea during my swim to the petroleum field.

This is the industrial model that Tunisia aspires to be an advanced and peace country: clean, open to others, tolerant and welcoming where Muslims, Christians and Jewish live as friendly citizen with the same duties and right

His 10 km swim was aided by the strongest tidal push possible during his 1 hour 35 minute swim where he swam from one platform to the big tanker platform Ifriquya 2 while swimming passed 4 production platforms.

Helicopters, escort boats, safety divers, a medical team and the supportive oil rig workers were motivated to protect Belhedi and showcase their part of the offshore world.

"I was happy to share this experience - the end of the 1400K Swim Across Tunisia - with the employees out on the platforms. We have a mutual respect for each other. They are proud of my swim to them as they work on the seas for Tunisia and our national economy. They are an example to hard-working people who come from all over Tunisia, a miniature representation of our country and its hope for a peaceful future."

Copyright © 2012 by Open Water Source

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