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Monday, April 7, 2014
James Kegley's Amazing Aquatic Adventure
James Kelgey, an Honour Swimmer in the International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame and a prolific professional marathon swimmer who raced on 5 continents, recalls the days when he visited Egypt for a series of professional races.
"Back in 1981 when the Internet didn't exist, making a phone call back to the United States [from overseas] might require 2 hours of lots of patience...on a good day.
That year, I raced in Egypt, it was kind of eventful," he explains in an understatement.
"For a start, I wasn't sure how to approach Egypt. It such a foreign place at the time. We stayed in El Nil hotel and practiced at a pool that we had to walk 40 minutes each way through the busy streets of Cairo. Then on race day, we took a bus to Port Said and did the swim there. I recall is a lot of large ships were anchored and spewing stuff from their bow and my trainer saying dolphins were swimming along the way.
Back in Cairo after the race, Sultan Kigab, a swimmer from the Sudan and a real showman, came running into the lobby screaming, 'KIGLY KIGLEY...[Muhammad Anwar El] Sadat [the third President of Egypt from 1970 to 1981], he's been shot!' He told me to look outside. There were army trucks full of soldiers whirling past in the streets. We walked up to the hospital which was surrounded by armored vehicles and sandbagged by army trucks until they had it all stabilized and then Sadat was announced dead when Mubarek, his second in command, had the place firmly in his grasp. The country went into mourning and the streets of Cairo were quiet as a winter morning, shops shuttered, and no cars were out at all.
Of course, the second race was cancelled and the Egyptian organizers gave us some Egyptian pounds to compensate. They split the purse evenly, but we had to find a place on the black market to exchange them for dollars as it wasn't allowed at the banks. Claudio Plit found us a guy in an abandoned building to take our pounds and enhance them for dollars. The guy had a stack of crisp 100 dollar bills in serial number order. I was somewhat concerned about their legitimacy, but one doesn't challenge a guy in an abandoned building in Cairo with a stack of unused bills. They worked later on.
We walked the streets of a noiseless, carless Cairo the next day which I knew was a unique experience. From there, I took a shared taxi crammed with families and went to Hurgada on the Red Sea. I travelled to Hurgada to go snorkeling in the Red Sea since I had time and my ticket didn't leave for a week. I also went to Luxor and was a great tourist for a week. We didn't travel under the auspices of USA Swimming at the time so it was pretty much a solo affair and we were on our own at that point.
[Abdul Latif] Abou Heif, the great Egyptian marathon swimmer from the 1960s, gave me and my trainer an extra house he had to stay in while still in Cairo. It was awesome; he was a great host forcing us to eat constantly. He took us to the National Club or Presidential club, I can't recall, to swim.
I was amazed at how peaceful the transition was. But then again, I was not there to capture history, but to swim into an adventure which I found.."
Copyright © 2014 by World Open Water Swimming Association
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Open Water Swimming Magazine
Open Water Swimming MagazineThe Open Water Swimming Magazine is the monthly magazine entirely focused on open water swimming heroes and heroines of every age, ability, and background. Published by the World Open Water Swimming Association, the Open Water Swimming Magazine is a free benefit to WOWSA members.
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The Other Shore
The Other Shore follows world record holder and legendary swimmer Diana Nyad as she comes out of a thirty-year retirement to re-attempt an elusive dream: swimming 103 miles non-stop from Cuba to Florida without the use of a shark cage. Her past and present collide in her obsession with a feat that nobody has ever accomplished. At the edge of The Devil’s Triangle, tropical storms, sharks, venomous jellyfish, and one of the strongest ocean currents in the world, all prove to be life-threatening realities. Timothy Wheeler’s documentary brings Diana Nyad’s extraordinary adventure to life as Diana sets out to prove that will and determination are all you need to make the unimaginable possible.
2014 Open Water Swimming Almanac
An Almanac for Open Water SwimmingAn almanac is essentially a body of knowledge which is so complete that it enables people in different fields to make predictions about the future of their respective industries.
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