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Authentic Marathon Swim: The Top & Most Historic Greek Swimming Event

ATHENS – The historic swimming event, the Authentic Marathon Swim, made a dynamic comeback for the third consecutive year, July 1-3, at Artemision, providing participants with the opportunity to enjoy unique open water swimming routes at Pefki Evia in the Municipality of Istiea – Edipsos.

Amateur and professional swimmers from 14 countries, including the United States (for a third consecutive year), Canada, the United Kingdom, Germany, and France, visited and supported North Evia on the occasion of the event, and discovered the region’s cultural and sports wealth. The Prime Minister’s representative, Deputy Minister of Rural Development & Food Simos Kedikoglou honored the Authentic Marathon Swim with his presence, while Deputy Minister of Culture & Sports Lefteris Avgenakis expressed his support for the event through his greeting.

Swimming action from the Authentic Marathon Swim 2022. Photo by South Evian Gulf Team / Authentic Marathon Swim

Dynamic presence of three marathon swimming Hall of Famers

World-class names with accolades in the Olympic Games were in attendance at Pefki Evia, adding a global magnitude to the event. After two years and his first participation, the Bulgarian Olympian and Hall of Famer Petar Stoychev with four participations in Olympics and 11 consecutive titles in major international open water marathon swimming FINA series visited Greece again. German marathon swimming Hall of Famer and world champion Christof Wandratsch, winner of many world championships, cups, and records, and English Hall of Famer Kate Steels, who was named the Woman of the Year 2021 at the World Open Water Swimming Association (WOWSA) Awards, visited Greece for the first time to participate in the event. All three top athletes were honored by Istiea-Edipsos Mayor Ioannis Kontzias.

Global Recognition for the Marathon Authentic Swim

A historic moment arrived for the Authentic Marathon Swim as the event was recognized globally by WOWSA and is now part of the UltraMarathon Swim Series, along with only six other races, for the time being, from around the world.

The series promotes the world’s coldest, hardest, longest, toughest, most extreme open water swims around the world, with the Authentic Marathon Swim featuring its 14.5km and 10km courses. From 2023, athletes who complete in the Authentic Marathon Swim will receive a separate rating in this series of events.

Swimming action from the Authentic Marathon Swim 2022. Photo by South Evian Gulf Team / Authentic Marathon Swim

The Greek swimming stars

The Authentic Marathon Swim also attracted Greek athletes who are recognized in marathon swimming, such as the open water masters’ world champion Vicky Kouveli, the three-time Greek champion and two-time English Channel marathon swimmer Sofia Psilolignou, and the English Channel marathon swimmer Giannis Kotsiopoulos while Greek champions such as Ilektra Lebl, Dimitris Negris, Stellina Aplanti, Panagiotis Bolanos, George Skotadis who announced that he will be swimming with the colors of the Greek national team, and Olga Ntalla who returned to the event for a second year, were also present.

Three race records at the 10km & 3km routes

This year’s Authentic Marathon Swim brought out many emotions and as always in demanding swimming routes, with strong sea elements had three unique route records. In the authentic 14.5km route “Skyllias & Hydna” crossing, which allowed swimmers from around the world to swim over the shipwrecks of the naval battle of Artemision that took place in 480 BC, for the first time, on July 2, the athletes followed the example of Skyllias and his daughter Hydna, the very first “marathon swimmers,” according to the Father of History Herodotus (8.8) and other historians. The winner of the demanding route, where 2,500 years ago the Persian fleet experienced major disasters, was the Greek champion George Skotadis with an amazing race that lasted 03:14’48’’, while among the women, Edie Markovich from the U.S. finished first. In the 10km race crossing, the German Hall of Famer Christof Wandratsch won with 02:38’50’’, breaking the record held by the Bulgarian Petar Stoychev by 1 minute and 25 seconds, while in the women’s race, Vicky Kouveli came first. George Douvanas won in the 5km and Liliyana Georgieva from Bulgaria was first in the women’s category. George Arniakos finished first with a record time of 00:37’51’’ in the 3km, while Ilektra Lebl came first in the women’s category, with a record time of 00:40’13’’. Stavroula Katouni won in the 1.5km, while Christos Trivyzas came first in the men’s race.

Vicky Kouveli is congratulated by the Prime Minister’s representative, Deputy Minister of Rural Development & Food Simos Kedikoglou. Photo by Konstantinos Balalas / Authentic Marathon Swim

Finally, hundreds of children filled the Municipality of Istiea-Edipsos with smiles by participating in the 500m children’s route that had Pefki beach as its starting and finishing point.

All the detailed results are available online:

14.5km: https://bit.ly/3Ih5EbQ

10km: https://bit.ly/3AsHtFm

5km: https://bit.ly/3NM5I4z

3km: https://bit.ly/3nDqZTh

1.5km: https://bit.ly/3nGLjDk

500m: https://bit.ly/3yJYQAv

All routes were designed by the race’s top technical director with distinctions in Olympic Games and world championships in open water swimming Nikos Gemelos. The warm-up of the athletes was undertaken by physical education instructor Mandy Persaki.

Left to right: Istiea-Edipsos Mayor Ioannis Kontzias, Petar Stoychev, Kate Steels, and Christof Wandratsch. Photo by Konstantinos Balalas / Authentic Marathon Swim

Races Ultimate Safety

The event was held with absolute safety in accordance with FINA regulations and the approval of the Hellenic Swimming Federation. The Authentic Marathon Swim provided once again everyone with a safety swimming buoy since its use by professional and amateur athletes was mandatory in all routes. For each participant in the 14.5km and 10km routes there was an escort-boat, while the lifeguards of Lifeguard Patrol were for another year next to the swimmers.

Open Water Sea Kayaking for the first time in a Greek sports event

The top Greek marathon expedition team in the open water sea South Evian Gulf team, not only accompanied swimmers in the 5km, 3km and 1.5km races, but also offered lessons on the basic techniques of open water sea kayaking, while getting participants acquainted with the boats on land and then allowing them to paddle in the straits of Artemision.

The event was organized by the Municipality of Istiea-Edipsos and the entire Local Government with the Region of Central Greece, the Organization of Cultural Development for Central Greece (O.P.A.S.T.E.) and the Regional Union of Municipalities of Central Greece.

In the context of the event’s third year Istiea-Edipsos Mayor Kontzias said: “The historic podium on which the race stands, gave us encouragement from the first moment to organize this event. We always have the races’ safety as our top priority and we want our place to celebrate every time by hosting visitors, professional and amateur swimmers, and those who want to swim in the waters of Artemision and be part of this celebration. Our Municipality continues to highlight the history and cultural heritage of the place through the Authentic Marathon Swim and its actions. I would like to warmly thank the entire Greek state, the Region of Central Greece, the Regional Union of Municipalities of Central Greece as well as all the sponsors who stood by us in this effort to rebuild the place. We look forward to seeing you all next year.”

The protection of the environment is a priority

Sports as a physical human activity needs a healthy natural environment. In the context of the Authentic Marathon Swim, the event collaborated for the second year with the Civil Non-Profit Company p3=Plastic Pollution Prevention for the protection of the natural landscape in Pefki and the environmental information of the athletes and all participants. The plan that was designed and implemented had the reduction and management of waste, the recycling of over 80% of the plastics used, the zero consumption of paper, the reduction of water consumption, the reduction of pollution from transportation, the information and awareness of athletes and spectators and the conservation and protection of local biodiversity as its goals. Pefki beach was cleaned by the event’s volunteers’ group, while throughout the three days all plastic packaging was collected in designated recycling bins and was promoted for reuse.

Research on the financial footprint of sports tourism for a second year

The Authentic Marathon Swim collaborated once again with the Sports Management Society of the leading private educational institution in the country, Deree – The American College of Greece, investing in research and collection of important data about the financial footprint of sports tourism in North Evia. During the races, a survey was conducted on participating athletes and visitors of the region, the results of which will be presented in the coming months.

George Skotadis finished first in the 14.5km Skyllias & Hydna race in the Authentic Marathon Swim. Photo by Konstantinos Balalas / Authentic Marathon Swim

Symbolic actions honoring the history of marathon swimming

On July 1, the Authentic Marathon Swim, honoring the history of the area, held a symbolic event at the ancient settlement of Artemision where Mavroelia from Artemision, which is also known as Olive Mavromandila, can be found. It is a monument of nature and local history, one of the oldest olive trees in the world, dating back over 2,500 years. Winners of the routes were symbolically awarded with a branch of Mavroelia.

Thanasis Polykandriotis concert

The Athens Concert Hall traveled to North Evia in an effort to contribute to its cultural revitalization. As part of the “Bridges of Music” events, on July 1 a concert was held at Pefki by the band of the famous Greek composer and bouzouki master Thanasis Polykandriotis. The event was part of the “Artemision 480 BC” Authentic Marathon Swim.

Music Concert by the Hellenic Navy Music Band

Moreover, on July 2, activities included a Music Convention with the participation of the Hellenic Navy Music Band, connecting the historic naval battle of Artemision with the present and honoring the naval feat. The Hellenic Navy’s Music Department held a music concert in honor of the Artemision naval battle and the Authentic Marathon Swim.

Local products festival

During the three-day event, an exhibition of local food products and tastings was held in collaboration with Evia’s Federation of Trade and Entrepreneurship “Evia Epichirin.”

The Authentic Marathon Swim collaborated with hotels in the region with the aim of revitalizing North Evia and strengthening the Greek tourism product. The hospitality sponsors that supported the event were: Altamar Hotel, Maria Louiza Apartments, Island, Mirtia Hotel, Hydna Studios, Ilios Studios, Villa Anastasia, Artemis Rooms Pefki, Meliti Studios, Ellaeon Throesma, Prigkipessa Studios, Sunset Pefki, Viki Studios, Galini Hotel Pefki, Apolonio, Lito Hotel, Kerasiotis Apartments, and Asimina Rooms.

Aidipsos Ferries in collaboration with Lokris Travel, Edipsos Ferries and Glyfa Ferries, offered discounts from 10% up to 50% to the event’s visitors and participants, while facilitating the access to North Evia from South Greece on the Arkitsa-Edipsos ferry routes and from Northern and Central Greece on the Glyfa-Agiokampos ferry routes.

The Authentic Marathon Swim was held under the auspices of the Ministry of Tourism and the Greek National Tourism Organization with the approval of the Hellenic Swimming Federation. The event joined the Greek actions of the #BeactiveHellas 2022 program of the European Commission which is held under the auspices of the General Secretariat of Sports.

With the event’s hashtags #authenticmarathonswim and #visitnorthevia, the Authentic Marathon Swim sent a strong message on social media about the uniqueness of North Evia and the need for people to support and visit the Municipality of Istiea-Edipsos.

Website: www.authenticmarathonswim.com

Facebook Page: www.facebook.com/AuthenticMarathonSwim

Instagram Page: www.instagram.com/authenticmarathonswim

Twitter Account: https://twitter.com/themarathonswim

YouTube Channel: www.youtube.com/channel/UCYxMgl-j5wgosL10lyRay5Q

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