Courtesy of WOWSA, Huntington Beach, California.

The General Assembly of the United Nations will celebrate April 6th as the International Day of Sport for Development and Peace.

April 6th commemorates the inauguration of the first Olympic games of the modern era in Athens, Greece in 1896.

The UN General Assembly of the United Nations explained its goal in promoting the International Day of Sport for Development and Peace. “Due to its vast reach, unparalleled popularity and foundation of positive values, sport is ideally positioned to contribute towards the United Nations’ objectives for development and peace. In the Declaration of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development sport’s role for social progress is further acknowledged that sport is also an important enabler of sustainable development. We recognize the growing contribution of sport to the realization of development and peace in its promotion of tolerance and respect and the contributions it makes to the empowerment of women and of young people, individuals and communities as well as to health, education and social inclusion objectives.”

This declaration brings to mind the gold medal swimss of 18-year-old Hungarian Alfréd Hajós who won the 100m freestyle in 1:22.2 and the 1200m freestyle in 18:22.1 in rough 55°F (13°C) Bay of Zea at the 1896 Athens Olympic Games as well as the various acts of Speedo diplomacy over the decades, both on a global and local level:

1950: Jose Cortiñas, Leo Vigil, Rolando Elejalde and Luciana Nunez attempted a relay crossing across the Florida Strait between Bahia Honda in Cuba to Key West, Florida to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Cuban flag on July 1st 1950.

1978: Walter Poenisch completed his Swim for Peace, the longest ocean swim of 128.8 miles (207.2 km) across the Straits of Florida from Cuba to The Little Duck Key in Florida on July 11th 1978 under the rules of the International Federation of Ocean Swimmers and Divers.

1987: Lynne Cox swam across the Bering Strait from the island of Little Diomede in Alaska, U.S.A. to Big Diomede, then part of the Soviet Union, in 2 hours 6 minutes where the water temperature averaged around 4°C (40°F). She saw it as a way to open the U.S.-Soviet border for the first time in 48 years.

1993: Skip Storch attempted a swim across the Straits of Florida from Cuba to Florida, U.S.A. that ended in 25 hours.

2011: The 120 km Japan to Taiwan Ocean Swim Challenge by Kazuya Suzuki, Atsushi Suzuki, Masaya Shimizu, Kenta Ishii, Haruki Yamamoto and Kouhei Yamada was a 6-person unprecedented non-stop 50-hour relay from Yonaguni Island in Okinawa, Japan to the eastern shore of Taiwan as a show of gratitude from Japan to Taiwan that donated US$260 million to provide relief after the March 11th 2011 twin disaster in Japan that left nearly 20,000 people dead and crippled a nuclear power plant that led to the evacuation of 100,000 people from a radiation-impacted area.

2013: Diana Nyad swam across the Straits of Florida from Havana, Cuba to Key West, Florida, U.S.A. on August 31st 2013 in 52 hours, 54 minutes that helped reduce the tensions between Cuba and the U.S.A. since the 1960s. Nyad dealt directly between United States Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and the Cuban senior leadership.

2015: Lewis Pugh [shown on left above standing next to former U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry] completed the Five Swims In Antarctica for 1 Reason that helped pave the way to establishing the Ross Sea as the world’s largest Marine Protected Area. The swims included swims on February 13th 2015 on Campbell Island at 52º South, on February 19th 2015 at Cape Adare at 71º South, on February 22nd 2015 at Cape Evans at 77.6º South, on February 28th 2015 at Bay of Whales at 78.5º South, and on March 7th 2015 at Peter 1 Island at 69º South.

2016: Dead Sea Swim, a 16 km crossing of the Dead Sea between Jordan and Israel on November 15th 2016 that took 7 hours 9 minutes included Udi Erell, Adina Faur, Kimberley Chambers, Abigail Thomson, Avishag Turek, Ori Sela, Oded Rahav, Juandre Human, Jean Craven, Evan Feldman, Ben Enosh, Doron Amosi, Munqeth Mehyar, Brooke Penney, Dov Litvinoff, Nick Papageorge, Samuel Moran, Luc Chetboun, Karon Marx, Neil Macaskill, Herman van der Westhuizen, Hylton Lokitch, Gita Osrin, Ram Barkai, Erez Amir, Yussuf Muhammad Ahmad Matari, Olfat Haider, Rachel Sharon Lane, Qusai Abdullah khalaf Al-louzi, Ahmed khalil ahmad murad, and Jackie Cobell.

2016: Malvinas/Falklands Islands Challenge, a tandem swim of the Unir el Mundo project between West Falkland to East Falkland in Argentina that was completed by Matías Ola from Argentina and Jackie Cobell from Great Britain in 2 hours 37 minutes in 6ºC water.

2017: Pan-American Colibrí Swim is a 7.9 km 3 hour 3 minute cross-border swim by a group of ocean swimmers from five nations with the purpose to raise awareness and funds for the Colibri Center for Human Rights in the Pacific Ocean between Imperial Beach near San Diego, California, USA and finishing at Playas de Tijuana in Tijuana, Mexico held on May 5th 2017, starting near the Tijuana River National Estuarine Research Reserve. Its members include Kimberley Chambers, Oded Rahav, Jean Craven, Antonio Argüelles, Nicolene Steynberg, Rene Martínez Saenz, Ben Enosh, Ryan Nelson, Melissa King, Kamini Moodley, Neil Macaskill, Luc Chetboun, Nora Toledano, Mariel Hawley, and Ben Enosh. They will be supported and escorted by escort kayakers Dan Simonelli, Billy Carlson, Matt Donoghue, Haden Ware, Anna Lopez and the Out of the Boat Team (Mexico), Kala Sherman-Presser, Tom Hecker, and Kevin Eslinger.

For more information on the International Day of Sport for Development and Peace, visit here.

Copyright © 2008-2018 by World Open Water Swimming Association