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Authentic Marathon Swim: A Sports Tourism Event with 2,501 Years of History

The National Herald

Impressive underwater footage from the swimming action at the Authentic Marathon Swim. (Photo by Elias Lefas / Authentic Marathon Swim)

ATHENS – The global swimming event, the Authentic Marathon Swim, was organized with utmost safety and success for the 2nd consecutive year on July 2-4 in the Municipality of Istiea-Edipsos.

Amateur and professional swimmers from 10 countries, including USA, Russia, Spain, Netherlands, Poland, Hungary, Bulgaria, Malta, Luxembourg, and Greece visited North Evia for the event and discovered the region's cultural and sports wealth. The Authentic Marathon Swim was honored by the presence of Prime Minister's representative, Secretary General of Sports George Mavrotas and the Deputy Minister of Tourism Sofia Zacharaki, while the President of the Greek National Tourism Organization Angela Gerekou expressed her support for the event through her greeting.

The National Herald

Impressive swimming action at the Authentic Marathon Swim. (Photo by Elias Lefas /Authentic Marathon Swim)

“Skyllias & Hydna” Swimming Route

According to Herodotus (8.8) and other historians, Skyllias with his daughter Hydna were the first long-distance swimmers of History.

On July 2, four brave athletes revived for the first time the achievement of Skyllias and Hydna. The swimmers who covered 80 stadia or 14.5 km were: the Hungarian Oceans Seven holder and member of the International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame, Attila Manyoki, 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.

The National Herald

Demarcation of a 2,000 sq. m. space for the venue of the Authentic Marathon Swim. (Photo by Dimitris Andritsos Photography / Authentic Marathon Swim)

Spyros Gianniotis swam for the first time since the Rio Olympics

For the first time in 5 years, the silver Olympic medalist of Rio, world champion and member of the International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame, Spyros Gianniotis swam, without being ranked and timed, the Olympic 10km marathon route, dedicating his symbolic attempt to the entire Greek delegation that will represent Greece at the Olympic Games in Tokyo. Top names such as the European champion, George Arniakos, as well as the Hungarian swimmer Attila Manyoki participated with him.

The National Herald

Left to right: Attila Manyoki, Sofia Psilolignou, Nikos Gemelos, Ioannis Kontzias, Vicky Kouveli, and Giannis Kotsiopoulos. (Photo by Dimitris Andritsos Photography / Authentic Marathon Swim)

The new generation of Marathon Swimming is here just before Tokyo

A few days before the Tokyo Olympics, the Authentic Marathon Swim honored the swimming marathon champion Alkis Kynigakis and his coach Vangelis Kozompolis for their contribution to the sport of marathon and their qualification to the 10km open water swimming marathon.

George Arniakos announced his retirement from swimming

The National Herald

The European champion George Arniakos at the Authentic Marathon Swim. (Photo by Dimitris Andritsos Photography / Authentic Marathon Swim)

The European champion, who completed his participation in the Authentic Marathon Swim with two first-place finishes conquering the top at 10km and 3km respectively, officially announced his retirement from the championships. The event honored the great swimmer, recognizing his contribution to the sport throughout all these years. Furthermore, the Hungarian swimmer Attila Manyoki was honored for his presence in the event.

Great Swimmers gave a dynamic presence

The National Herald

Left to right: Ioannis Kontzias, Vangelis Kozompolis, Alkis Kynigakis, and Spyros Gianniotis. (Photo by Dimitris Andritsos Photography / Authentic Marathon Swim)

The Authentic Marathon Swim gathered great names of marathon swimming for another year. More specifically, the American world ice swimming champion Quinn Fitzgerald who has swum in the Arctic Circle and is also the fastest swimmer in the world in his category, the Bulgarian swimmer Lachezar Shumkov with participations in the 2017 and 2019 World Aquatics Championships, as well as members of the Greek national swimming team such as Dimitris Negris, Stellina Aplanti, Ilektra Lebl, Panagiotis Bolanos, and Georgia Pavlopoulou took part in the event.

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.), the Central Union of Municipalities in Greece(KEDE) and the Regional Union of Municipalities of Central Greece.

The National Herald

George Arniakos, the winner of the 10k with the Secretary General of Sports George Mavrotas. (Photo by Dimitris Andritsos Photography/ Authentic Marathon Swim)

In the context of the event's 2nd year, the Mayor of Istiea-Edipsos Mr. Kontzias stated: “Our Municipality, through the Authentic Marathon Swim and its activities, showcased even more this year the region's history and cultural heritage and proved that it can successfully organize this global swimming event. I would like to warmly thank the entire Greek state, the Ministry of Tourism, the Greek National Tourism Organization, the General Secretariat of Sports, the International Olympic Academy, the Hellenic Olympic Committee, the Region of Central Greece, the Central Union of Municipalities in Greece, the Regional Union of Municipalities of Central Greece as well as all the sponsors who stood by us in this effort recognizing the importance and values of this sports event. Our goal for the event is to welcome every year more and more visitors from all over the world who will enjoy the best possible hospitality.”

The National Herald

Marina Triantafyllidi, the winner of the 10k with the Deputy Minister of Tourism Sofia Zacharaki. (Photo by Dimitris Andritsos Photography/ Authentic Marathon Swim)

During the races, the Prime Minister's representative, Secretary General of Sports George Mavrotas highlighted, among other things: “After a difficult year, not only for sports but for all sectors and for the whole world, I think that the heart of Greek sports has begun to beat again. This is what my presence here in the Authentic Marathon Swim at Artemision symbolizes, an organization with historical roots and a sports event which showcases the wealth that our country has in such events that combine history, culture and sports, so that it can become an important sports tourism pole.”

Deputy Minister of Tourism Zacharaki, remarked: “I am very happy and excited for this event that the Ministry of Tourism actively supports from the first moment. It is the second year, and we are happy, with the great number of participants from Greece and abroad. This is very indicative of the interest that sports tourism can generate but also how you can provide a multidimensional tourism product in a region that has natural beauty, sun, sea, good food, but also very strong history and archeology that we all need to know.”

The National Herald

The god of Artemision, Poseidon at Pefki of the Municipality of Istiea-Edipsos. (Photo by Elias Lefas / Authentic Marathon Swim)

Tough races for strong swimmers

On July 3, the action started with the new 5km open water swimming race. Lachezar Shumkov was the winner in men and Eleni Economou the winner in women. The 1.5km race followed with Manos Moiras winning in men while Georgia Pavlopoulou was the winner in women. The schedule of the day ended with the 3km race with George Arniakos and Ilektra Lebl being the respective winners in men and women. These races had a starting and finishing point at Pefki beach. On July 4, the event culminated with the 10km marathon swimming route. After a very demanding race that took place under adverse conditions and strong currents, the winners were George Arniakos in men and Marina Triantafyllidi in women.

The National Herald

Music concert by the Hellenic Navy’s Music Department at Pefki. (Photo by Dimitris Andritsos Photography/ Authentic Marathon Swim)

Only 10 swimmers finished the marathon swimming route.

The schedule also included the 500m children's race which offered joy and smiles to dozens of children. The warm-up of the athletes was held by the physical education instructor, Mandy Persaki.

The detailed results are available online:

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

5km: https://bit.ly/3yqjF0Q

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

1.5km: https://bit.ly/3qL9Urr

All routes of the Authentic Marathon Swim were designed by the Federal Technical Director of the Greek National Swimming Team and race's technical director, with Olympic and world distinctions in open water swimming Nikos Gemelos.

The event was held in accordance with FINA regulations and the health protocol approved by the Health Scientific Committee of the General Secretariat of Sports, established by the experienced team of ActiveMedia Group, in order to protect the health of all athletes and attendees.

Symbolic activities honored the history of marathon swimming

In the afternoon on July 2, the Authentic Marathon Swim, honoring the history of the place, 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.

Moreover, activities included for the first time the presence of a Music Convention with the participation of the Hellenic Navy Music Band, connecting the historic naval battle of Artemision, which is the first naval conflict in the world, with the present and honoring the naval feat while recognizing the Battle of Artemision as the primary starting point of the Greek Navy's History. On July 3, in the evening, the Hellenic Navy's Music Department held a music concert in honor of the Artemision naval battle and the Authentic Marathon Swim.

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