Last night in a hospital in Split, Croatia, legendary Croatian swimmer Veljko Rogošić passed away at the age of 71.

An Honour Swimmer in the International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame and a shipyard technician by trade, Rogošić nearly always found himself near the water. He set a benchmark for pool and marathon swimming among his countrymen during a life dedicated to swimming.

He began as a great pool swimmer for the former Yugoslavia where he won 142 national championships and competed a total of 203 times for his country in international competitions, setting 51 national records in the 400m and 1500m freestyle, 200m and 400m individual medley, 200m butterfly and freestyle relays. He was the captain o the national team for 15 years and participated in two Olympic Games (1960 in Rome and 1964 in Tokyo). His highest international rankings were in the 1500m freestyle (fourth) and 400m individual medley (fifth).

Rogošić won a World Cup Championship in the 200m butterfly in 1971 and received three Olympic Committee awards during his career.

He won the 1969, 1970, 1971, 1972 and 1973 marathons in Italian Ricconeu and won the world championship in 1971, 1972, 1973 and 1974 at the Maratona del Golfo Capri-Napoli.

According to the Guinness Book of World Records, Rogošić set the world record for the longest distance ever swum without fins in the sea with his 225 km (139.8 mile) 50 hour 10 minute swim across the Adriatic Sea from Grado to Riccione in Italy between from 29-31 August 2006. The distance was measured by GPS.

As he continued to serve as an ambassador of the sport, he continued to be honored for his efforts and exploits. In 2004, he became a member of the Half Century Club for his crossing of the English Channel at the age of 63 in 11 hours 27 minutes – the first by a Croatian swimmer.

Rogošić‘s prowess in the butterfly and in the ocean were combined in this television advertisement.

Photo above shows Veljko Rogošić in 1974 when he swam 43 km from Vis Island to Split, Croatia.

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