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Monday, October 17, 2016

Denigration, Depletion And Daring In The Dead Sea

Courtesy of Madswimmer, Dead Sea with Jordan to the east and Israel to the west.

Generations of over-farming, pollution and poor environmental policies have led to the the degeneration and depletion of the Dead Sea between Jordan to the east and Israel to the west. To raise awareness and bring people and cultures together to preserve, protect and enhance the marine environment and to stop the degeneration and depletion of the Dead Sea, two completely separate and unlikely groups of open water swimmers came together to collaborate on the Dead Sea Swim.

After swimming 123 hours 10 minutes in the 377 km Cyprus Israel Relay in 2014, Udi Erell suggested to his teammates Doron Amosi, Ben Enosh, Ori Sela, Oded Rahav, and Luc Chetboun that they should try crossing the Dead Sea.

Everyone thought the idea was interesting and they began researching how to see their idea to fruition.

Remarkably, far, far way in another country and another culture, Evan Feldman and his colleagues were planning and attempting the High/Low Challenge with their group of Madswimmers.

After successfully swimming on high at 5,909 m (19,386 feet) in the Andes Mountains in Argentina in 2015, Feldman was looking to go the other way: the world's lowest altitude swim. This search for a low-altitude swim ultimately led the Madswimmers also to the Dead Sea.

So the Israeli group and the South African group had both identified the Dead Sea as their next adventure, unknown to each other.

Both teams knew that a crossing of the Dead Sea was unique and unprecedented - and had significant roadblocks to even starting: political, operational and logistical.

And even more remarkably, both the Cyprus Israel Relay team and the Madswimmers wanted to swim in the same month within two weeks of each other.

"It could have been a battle who swims first," recalls Sela. But in the spirit of open water camaraderie and mutual consideration, the two teams came up with a collaborative plan.

"Evan contact me and told me their plan. After talking about life, swimming and the characteristics of both teams, we knew we are not only learning how to do it, but also we are going to do it together. I had to ask our team for their permission and everybody said, 'YES!'. From the time that [co-event director] Oded talked with Evan, I went as the coach to Cape Town to train the Madswimmers.

Now we are one month away from our joint swim with 35 swimmers and ready to go

35 ordinary people doing an extreme swim for charity in order to make a difference in children’s lives. For this swim, Madswimmer is joining forces with an international group including the Israeli team to raise awareness and drive change to stop the depletion of the Dead Sea whose water levels are dropping at an alarming rate of almost a meter per year. "We stand a chance of losing this natural wonder if there is no further intervention."

"[Collaboration] was written in the stars," said Feldman.

For more information about this event, visit here.

The Madswimmer team consists of Evan Feldman, Jean Craven, Juandre Human, Karon Marx, Neil Macaskill, Herman van der Westhuizen, Hylton Lokitch, Gita Osrin, Ram Barkai, and Abigail Thomson.

The Cyprus Israel swim team consists of Udi Erell, Adina Faur, Kimberley Chambers, Avishag Turek, Ori Sela, Oded Rahav, Ben Enosh, Doron Amosi, Munqeth Mehyar, Brooke Penney, Dov Litvinoff, Nick Papageorge, Samuel Moran, Luc Chetboun, Erez Amir, Yussuf Muhammad Ahmad Matari, Olfat Haider, Rachel Sharon Lane, Qusai Abdullah khalaf Al-louzi, and Ahmed khalil ahmad murad.

Copyright © 2016 by World Open Water Swimming Association

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