On the 25 July 2015, I had the great honour of hosting the 27th “Samsung Bosphorus Cross Continental Swimming Race” from Asia to Europe. I was following in impressive footsteps. The previous celebrity hosts were pool Olympic swimmers Inge de Brujin (2014), Ian Thorpe (2013) and Mark Spitz (2012). I also became the first host to swim the 6.5 kilometre stretch.
Having attended many open water swimming events I was blown away with how much national media attention this swim received. The streets were aligned with giant billboards and banners and the coverage was unbelievable. I must have had 20 television interviews and the same again (if not more) for newspapers, magazines and radio. On the day before the race, I took part in a show swim with a number of great swimmers. The atmosphere felt similar to a football game in England, I have never seen such excitement around open water swimming. Hopefully a sign of things to come!
I was also extremely impressed and can’t praise the Turkish Olympic Committee enough for their organisation and running of this event. Swimmers were kitted out with goodie bags and received a chip to track their swim time as well as for their safety. Huge video screens were placed around the venue; some displayed the competitors’ results while others showed the action during the race and the awards ceremonies making it easy and enjoyable for the 8000 strong crowd of spectators to keep up with what was going on. As a result, there was a real buzz throughout Istanbul surrounding the event.
In the run up to the race the competitors were taken out on boat trips so they could be advised of the best route to take through the strong currents of the Bosphorus. The general public were also welcome on these trips just to take in the incredible scenery! The Bosphorus is usually a very busy shipping lane but it is closed off once a year for four hours for this event.
The Turkish Olympic Committee hold this event every year in the name of friendship and peace, bringing countries around the world to celebrate through open water swimming. This year there were 1870 swimmers representing 49 countries, and all were packed into one boat going out to the start. The excitement was contagious. I loved going to each deck shouting out the different countries and hearing the cheers come back.
As host it was my privilege to kick-start the race, which was a most incredible experience. Motivational chanting and clapping got everyone psyched up for their swim Ocean Walker style. It’s easy to see why this race sells out quickly. This year nearly 1600 people had to be turned away.
I would personally like to thank all the Bosphorus swimmers, people of Istanbul and the Turkish Olympic Committee for making me feel so welcome.
Adam Walker was the first British person to complete the Oceans Seven. He now runs Ocean Walker providing swimming coaching through one-to-one sessions and training camps. Find out more athttp://oceanwalkeruk.com/