Dialog Across the Seas Project 2

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					Dialogue Across the Seas 2009

CSA delegation to Tunisia 4-11th October 2009.

At very short notice CSA President Michael Read invited Stephen Brearey, Jane McCormick,
Miguel Arrobas, and Aditya Raut to accompany him to Tunisia in support of a „Dialog
Across the Seas Project 2009‟. They were assisted by Santosh Raut, Colin Baillie, Tanja Klar,
Manuel Arrobas and CSA Observer Steve Franks.
Dialogue Across the Seas is a joint project between the Channel Swimming Association Ltd
and the Tunisian authorities, which aims to connect the United Kingdom with the Magreb
countries of North Africa. The plan is for competitions to be organized each year, in each
country, between national swimmers and swimmers who have successfully swum the English
Channel. This first event was intended to be a Tunisian swimming race, which would be a
model of intercultural partnership in sport and a stepping stone for the Tunisian swimmers,
towards the ultimate challenge of swimming the English Channel. The projects other aims
include: to raise awareness of the need to safeguard the environment, to promote drug free
sport, promote humanitarian action in favour of handicapped people, foster sustainable
development and dialogue between civilizations.
The swim from Kerkennah to Sfax on 7 th October 2009, was the culmination of three years
hard work by Colonel Néjib Belhedi. It commemorated the only previous swim along this
route on June 25 1993, by the then Commander of the Tunisian Air Force, Néjib Belhedi who
covered the distance in 7 hours 15 minutes.
On a warm sunny day, with water temperatures around 23C and calm to slight conditions,
nine swimmers started the swim from the port of Sidi Youssef on the island of Kerkennah to
the port of Sfax a distance of 23 km. Five were swimmers of the Tunisian national team
(Ismail Dergaa, Haykel Abid, Kaouther Khalfaoui, Ghada Sherif and Abir Arbi) and the
others had all swum the English Channel (Jane McCormick (Scotland) 2005, Miguel Arrobas
(Portugal) 2008, Steve Brearey (England) 2009 and Aditya Raut (India) 2009).
The swimmers were accompanied and protected by a naval unit and a helicopter of the
Tunisian National Army, 3 Coastguard boats, 2 divers and the vessel “Golla”. There was 1
ship for the director of the race and 7 escort boats for the swimmers.
Ismail Dergaa (male) and Kaouther Khalfaoui (female) won the competition in around 4½
hours, Haykel Abid came second and Miguel Arrobas was third. The winners are young
swimmers who showed that they have the potential to swim the channel, but they need to
experience much longer swims in cold water. Miguel Arrobas, Jane McCormick and Steve
Brearey were commended for their determination and completion of the crossing in excellent
weather. Aditya Raut, who had already had a tremendous season swimming in Lake Zurich,
Gibraltar and the Channel in recent weeks, was unfortunately unable to finish the swim,
because of pain in his right shoulder.

Swim Results:
Men:                              Ladies:
Ismail Dergaa 4.27                Kaouther Khalfaoui 5.00

Haykel Abid 4.30                  Ghada Cherif 5.01

Miguel Arrobas 4.41               Abir Arbi 5.02

Stephen Brearey 6.04              Jane McCormick 5.21

Aditya Raut Retired