2,465 swimmers cross the Bosphorus in unique race from Asia to Europe

Istanbul, Turkey; 22 August 2021: 2,465 swimmers from 55 countries took part today in the 33rd Samsung Bosphorus Cross-Continental Swimming Race in what is the world’s only official swimming contest to cross from Asia to Europe.

Nida Eliz Üstündağ from Turkey was crowned champion in the women’s category with a time of 40 minutes 55 seconds whilst Polat Uzer Turnalı also from Turkey finished first in the men’s category with a time of 38 minutes 22 seconds.

The unique race, organised every year since 1989 by the Turkish Olympic Committee (TOC), saw swimmers compete in the 6.5km course which began in Kanlıca on the Asian side of Istanbul and ended at Kuruçeşme Cemil Topuzlu Park on the European side.

Of the 2,465 swimmers, there were 668 women and 1,797 men. A total of 1,210 foreign and 1,227 Turkish swimmers took part in this year’s competition.

The event, which is one of the best examples of the unifying power of sport, and which contributes to the international promotion of Turkey and Istanbul as a sports destination, saw swimmers who successfully completed the race awarded the prestigious title of “cross-continental swimmer”.

This year’s race was held without spectators in line with the strict COVID-19 protocols which were put in place by the organisers including social distancing and hygiene measures.

Youth and Sports Minister Mehmet Muharrem Kasapoğlu, Istanbul Governor Ali Yerlikaya, Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality Mayor Ekrem İmamoğlu and TOC President Prof. Dr. Uğur Erdener all attended the race.

There were also special guests who watched the race unfold and shared the excitement of the participants. These included President of FINA, Husain Al-Musallam, International Olympic Committee Member Patama Khunying Leeswadtrakul as well as International Olympic Committee Member and President of Austrian Olympic Committee Karl Stoss.

Speaking on the successful delivery of the event, TOC President Prof. Dr. Uğur Erdener, said:

“The Samsung Bosphorus Cross-Continental Swimming Race brought together swimmers from around the world on the Bosphorus, giving them the unique opportunity to swim between two continents in one of the most beautiful cities in the world. We are very pleased to have successfully delivered this event, which provides lots of positive publicity for our country all over the world through sports, despite the ongoing pandemic. I would like to thank all of the organisations, sponsors and volunteers who contributed to the success of this year’s race, especially the Ministry of Youth and Sports, the Governorship of Istanbul, and the Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality.

Nihat Usta, 1st Vice President of the TOC and President of the Bosphorus Race Organisation Committee, said:

“Istanbul, the intersection point between continents and cultures, brought together swimmers from almost every region of the world through the Samsung Bosphorus Cross-Continental Swimming Race. I want to congratulate our swimmers who swam between two continents with the unique views of the Bosphorus and thank everyone who contributed to the successful organisation of this unique event.”

Race results:

Results for the top three places for the women’s and men’s categories are found below:


♦ Nida Eliz Üstündağ – 40:55

♦ Hilal Zeyneb Saraç – 41:19

♦ Hanna Pasichnyk – 41:20


♦ Polat Uzer Turnalı – 38:22

♦ Mustafa Sevenay – 39:57

♦ Çağatay Alper Üstününal – 40:32

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