ATHENS – Pastra Cretonaxiosa, the first Greek swimming team to cross the Channel, was welcomed at the Presidential Mansion on Wednesday by Greek President Prokopios Pavlopoulos.
At an event recognizing outstanding achievements of the past year, Pavlopoulos congratulated the team for providing a model of serving others. The team, which raises scholarship funds by attending swimming competitions, is fulfilling a valuable role, Pavlopoulos said, including “solidarity to human beings, something we are currently missing.”
Speaking on behalf of the team, swimmer Evgenia Tzannini said the members’ dream was “to help children of remote islands and to create a family of scholarship recipients who may in turn help these areas.”
She said that the team, founded by a group of friends in 2013, is focusing on islands with less than 2,000 residents and would like to eventually include mainland villages as well.
“We have secured seven scholarships,” Tzannini said, “and one student – the only high school graduate of Ai Stratis this year – is already studying with our support. Next year we will hand out six scholarships.
Pastra Cretonaxia began when three friends decided to swim their first race, the Spetses Marathon. They eventually acquired a coach, Sotiris Pastras, established their name and swam their first race under their new name at Bosphorus in 2015.
The team then grew by another four members, who decided to swim together the English Channel, one of the toughest crossings in the planet.
Greek President Prokopios Pavlopoulos welcomes Pastra Cretonaxiosa, the first Greek swimming team to cross the Channel, at the Presidential Mansion in Athens, Jan. 2, 2019. (Photo by Eurokinissi/Yorgos Kontarinis)