ATHENS – The 4th Santorini Experience drew professional and amateur athletes, and over 6,000 visitors to the enchanting island of the Cyclades, October 5-7. The top sports tourism event in Greece was a success with a record number of participants from 45 countries and 5 continents in the running and swimming races. In fact, 60% of the visitors stayed in Santorini for more than 5 nights.
Participants included swimmers and runners from Argentina, Australia, Canada, France, Germany, New Zealand, USA, Russia, Qatar, South Africa, United Kingdom, Japan, and China. Greek-American Dean Karnazes, the ultra-marathon runner and author, was among the celebrities in attendance. World class names as well as the elite of the Greek national open water swimming team were also present.
The top Hungarian swimmer Attila Manyoki, who excels in open water swimming races and is a member of the International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame (IMSHOF) returned for another year to the event which is a member of the Global Swim Series (GSS). Along with him, the British two-time silver Olympic medalist at the Rio Olympics in 2016, Jazz Carlin swam for the first time, as well as the twin Greek expatriates racing with the colors of the national team of the Netherlands, George and Timos Skotadis.
The elite of the Greek national team along with top professional athletes had a dynamic presence in the swimming race. The national team consisted of George Arniakos, Dimitris Negris, Stellina Aplanti, Dejan Giovanovic, Dimitris Manios, Irene Diakoumakou, Maria Filopoulou, Maria Liossi, Anastasia Kyrili, Konstantinos Konstantineskou, Panagiotis Alogakos, Maria Kirykou, Triantafyllia Diakoumakou, Marianota Elmali, and Melina Trochalaki.
The federal coach and technical director of the 1.5 miles (2.4km) open water swimming by Vikos, Nikos Gemelos applied FINA’s regulations on Sunday, October 7, and implemented the race with the approval of the Hellenic Swimming Federation, following all safety rules. At the same time, the event took care of the amateur athletes with the addition of the safety buoy and other high standard safety measures. The swimmers started in two groups from the volcano, ending their race at the old port of Fira, with the impressive view of the island in front of them. The Men’s winner was Dimitris Negris, George Arniakos finished 2nd, and Dejan Jovanovic in 3rd place. In the women’s race, Olympic medalist Jazz Carlin was 1st, Irene Diakoumakou finished 2nd, and Maria Filopoulou came 3rd. Detailed results are available on the official page of the event: https://bit.ly/2zUQl6Z.
For the safety of the race, 50 specialized escorts in the water assisted with the help of Lifeguard Patrol, which also had several lifeguard boats beyond its staff and the people of Santorini who assisted with their own boats, the Voluntary Lifeguards of Santorini, Atlantis Dive Center, Mediterranean Dive Club, Santorini Nautical Club, and most of all the Boatmen Union Santorini which carried the athletes to the volcano and helped in the smooth implementation of the open water swimming race.
On Saturday, October 6, the 15km, 10km and 5km “Aristides Alafouzos” running races were held. All routes started from the desalination plant in Oia, with parts of trail track and a background of the magnificent images from the volcano overlooking the Caldera, as well as the settlements of Imerovigli, Firostefani, Oia, and with a finish in Oia. The running routes are designed by the former marathon runner, Greek classic route record holder, running trainer and director of All About Running, Nikos Polias. Santorini Experience has joined the World’s Marathons global community. The running results are also available online: https://bit.ly/2zUQl6Z
It should be noted that many athletes decided to run for the joy of sports without being timed.
In terms of the social events, Municipal Sports Cultural Environmental Organization of Santorini (DAPPOS) hosted an open concert with the Greek-German artist FIONA, in the surrounding area of the Indoor Hall DAPPOS, on October 6. The International Dancing Group of Santorini “Stamatina Xiarchou” and Association of Pontians Eptamyloi Serres “Akrites” opened the concert.
On October 5, on the occasion of Santorini Experience, Samsung (as the official technology partner), in cooperation with the local Kotsovolos store, organized the event “Kotsovolos and Samsung present the Hotel of the Future” at the conference hall of DAPPOS informing the island’s hoteliers of all the latest developments and the benefits of technology in their industry. Samsung enriched the experience of those participating and attending the event with the innovative Samsung Galaxy ecosystem services, such as the Samsung Galaxy S9 and S9+, coupled with the Gear 360, the Gear VR, and unique 360 degrees content.
Santorini Experience is co-organized by the Municipality of Santorini, Municipal Sports Cultural Environmental Organization of Santorini (DAPPOS), and Active Media Group. The event was held under the auspices of the Greek National Tourism Organization and approved by the Hellenic Swimming Federation. More information is available online: santorini-experience.com.