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Sunday, July 22, 2018

Travel Ninja Swims From Asia To Europe

Photo of Alex Kostich, courtesy of Mike Lewis.

2,472 people finished the Samsung Bosphorus Cross-Continental Swim (Samsung Boğazıçi Kitalararasi Yarislari or Samsung Boğaziçi Kıtalararası Yüzme Yarışı), a 6.5 km race across the Istanbul Strait where swimmers start by jumping off a ship in Kanlica on the Asian side of the Bosphorus and finish on docks in Kuruçesme on the European side of the Bosphorus.

Visiting Californian Alex Kostich was first swimmer up the ladder on a dock. He recalls the race, "I was third off the platform to start the race and took an early lead and swam alone the entire way, but navigated perfectly [across the Bosphorus]. I was happy. The media here was crazy [good with] drones, helicopters, loudspeakers, and thousands of spectators and press. The race made me feel young again."

The 48-year-old Kostich, known in the swimming community as the Travel Ninja, literally traversed halfway around the world to experience one of the most celebrated open water swimming competitions in the world [see here]. He was timed in 47:41, a fast time for 6.5 km where everyone benefitted from the currents flowing through the Istanbul Strait. "I didn’t really feel the push; on the contrary, it was rough water and I often had head-on waves crashing over me in the last third of the race.

Previous winners in the fastest year finished in 39 minutes and the finishers in the slowest year were about an hour, so I guess [the times this year] were average

But the event is anything but average.

1 Dogukan Ulaç (Northern Cyprus, born 1996) 46:58
2 Erge Can Gezmiş (Turkey, born 1998) 47:14
3 Alex Kostich (USA, born 1970) 47:41
4 Vıacheslav Semhaikin (Ukraine, born 1988) 47:59
5 Vladimir Falin (Russia, born 1994) 48:18
6 Efe Erduran (Turkey, born 1987) 50:18
7 Furkan Hüseyin Yüksel (Turkey, born 2000) 50:21
8 Doğukan Demir (Turkey, born 2000) 50:28
9 Hilal Zeyneb Saraç (Turkey, born 1998) 50:30
10 Efe Akdoğan (Turkey, born 2003) 50:36 [first woman, see below]
11 Buse Topcu (Turkey, born 1999) 50:40 [second woman]
12 Vıktor Aloshyn (Ukraine, born 1988) 50:46
13 Amy Dantzler (USA, born 1964) 50:50 [third woman]
14 Serkan Atasay (Turkey, born 1970)51:10
15 Berkay Güllü (Turkey, born 2002) 51:20
16 Efe Altunbüken (Turkey, born 2003) 51:27
17 Hakan Kiper (Turkey, born 1973) 51:44
18 Nilay Erkal (Turkey, born 1999) 51:58 [fourth woman]
19 Bekir Emrah Gemicioğlu (Turkey, born 1969) 52:01
20 Fratıla Serban Florin (Romania, born 1972) 52:03
21 Ilgın Çelik (Turkey, born 2002) 52:18
22 Baris İlhan (Turkey, born 1989) 52:48
23 Oleg Kozel (Russia, born 1984) 52:50
24 Ömer Tara (Turkey, born 1996) 53:02
25 Denys Sylantiev (Ukraine, born 1976) 53:10

Spaniard Diego López Dominguez and Hong Kong resident Doug Woodring were among the large contingent of foreign participants. They swam while promoting the elimination of plastics at the event in the unique Plastic Disclosure Project initiative. But the strong currents got the better of them. "Diego and I hit the wrong lines today and went almost upstream. Times among the swimmers varied widely in the race depending if you got the current ride in the middle or went against it along the side like we did, sadly. My time was 10 minutes slower than last year, but I felt better. Some ended up with times 15 minutes faster - so it goes to show that in some races the lines and currents really matter and this is one of them."

54-year-old Amy Dantzler finished third in the women's division, very close to two Turkish swimmers less than half her age, "I had an amazing time competing in the beautiful Bosphorus Cross Continental Swim from Asia to Europe today. I was exited to have finished as the 3rd woman overall behind two wonderful young Turkish swimmers. I am also so happy that our entire Los Angeles crew - Alex Kostich, Paul Towers, Bryan Libit, Steve Childers and Mike Wallace crushed it."

For more information about the event, visit here.

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