Haim Tamir puts Vaseline on Yitzhak Yehezkel before his second 22 km lengthwise crossing of the Sea of Galilee in 1953

That Is How I Will Be Strong

Courtesy of Ori Yehezkel, Sea of Galilee, Israel.

It is not often – but it is very good – when open water swimmers are mentioned alongside great athletes in other sports.

In a Hebrew-language book called Lexicon of Sports, edited by U. Simri and I. Pax and published by Sifriat Poalim – Workers’ Book-Guild in Israel in 1959, Israeli marathon swimmer Yitzhak Yehezkel is mentioned among 3,000 leading athletes.

On page 185, Yehezkel was described in translated English as follows: “Born in 1921, in USSR; was a gymnast and swimmer at ‘Hapo’el’ Tel-Aviv; the first to swim lengthwise across the Sea of Galilee from Zemach to Tabcha (1944 – 9:39.44 hours); he had done that 3 times, his best achievement 8:33.02 hours) and swam 10 times across the Sea of Galilee (his best achievement 2:54.50 hours); gymnastics and swimming instructor.”

Ori Yehezkel explains the criteria for these choices that included athletes such as long jumper Bob Beamon, distance runner Emil Zatopek, boxer Floyd Patterson, swimmer Dawn Fraser, soccer player Pelé, and Captain Matthew Webb, “Selection was based on sporting achievements. Israeli sportsmen and sportswomen either participated in international competitions or were excellent prior to the establishment of the State of Israel and until early 1950. Yehezkel belongs in the latter category.

In another book (translated in English as ‘That Is How I Will Be Strong‘) that was written to encourage young Israeli children to do sports, there is a chapter on Yehezkel’s story of his lengthwise crossing of the Sea of Galilee and in other sections as a multi-dimensional athlete
.”

Guy Cohen and Eyal Schachner compiled the following historical data of swimmers who have completed a lengthwise crossing of the Sea of Galilee for the new Galilee Sea Marathon Swimming Association:

1. On 28 October 1944 by Yitzhak Yehezkel (Israel) from south to north in 9:39:44 at the age of 23
2. On 23 August 1953 by Yitzhak Yehezkel (Israel) from north to south in 10:18:20 at the age of 32
3. On 22 September 1953 by Yehuda Shevek (Israel) from south to north in 8:18:30 at the age of 22
4. On 29 October 1953 by Oded Paz (Israel) from north to south in 7:23:00 at the age of 21
5. On 23 October 1954 by Malka Tenenbaum (Israel) from north to south in 9:20:40 at the age of 19
6. On 23 October 1954 by Edna Borenstein (Israel) from north to south in 9:40:00 at the age of 17
7. On 9 October 1955 by Yitzhak Yehezkel (Israel) from south to north in 8:33:25 at the age of 34
8. On 23 October 1964 by Mary Margaret Revell (USA) from north to south in 9:39:10 at the age of 27
9. On 7 July 2006 by Tal Snunit (Israel) from north to south in 7:15:00 at the age of 44
10. On 7 July 2006 by Adi Parag (Israel) from north to south in 7:15:00 at the age of 49
11. On 7 July 2006 by Ram Barkai (South Africa) from north to south in 7:15:00 at the age of 48
12. On 2 September 2009 by Bill Welzien (USA) from north to south in 10:25:00 at the age of 50
13. On 21 December 2013 by Hadar Aviram (USA) from north to south in 9:30:00 at the age of 38
14. On 16 May 2014 by Yaron Davidi (Israel) from north to south in 8:30:00 at the age of 53
15. On 16 May 2014 by Elad Benyamin (Israel) from north to south in 8:30:00 at the age of 40
16. On 4 September 2014 by Avishag Turek (Israel) from north to south in 8:02:00 at the age of 39
17. On 4 September 2014 by Theodore Yach (South Africa) from north to south in 8:02:00 at the age of 56
18. On 26 May 2015 by Yigal Sela (Israel) from north to south in 10:15:00 at the age of 63
19. On 9 December 2016 by Avishag Turek (Israel) from south to north in 7:50:00 at the age of 41
20. On 9 December 2016 by Stuart Hacker (UK) from south to north in 7:55:00 at the age of 39
21. On 9 December 2016 by Yaron Davidi (Israel) from south to north in 8:23:00 at the age of 55
22. On 9 December 2016 by Idit Ron (Israel) from south to north in 9:17:00 at the age of 57
23. On 9 December 2016 by Gad Benjamin (Israel) from south to north in 9:31:00 at the age of 70
24. On 24 February 2017 by Avishag Turek (Israel) from south to north in 6:50:00 at the age of 42
25. On 29 June 2017 by Avishag Turek (Israel) from south to north in 6:15:00 at the age of 42
26. On 29 June 2017 by Guy Cohen (Israel) from south to north in 6:15:00 at the age of 52
27. On 20 April 2018 by Avishag Turek (Israel) from south to north in 7:02:00 at the age of 43
28. On 20 April 2018 by Guy Cohen (Israel) from south to north in 7:02:00 at the age of 53
29. On 20 April 2018 by Stuart Hacker (UK) from south to north in 7:07:00 at the age of 41
30. On 20 April 2018 by Mickey Helps (UK) from south to north in 7:07:00 at the age of 52
31. On 30 April 2018 by Avishag Turek (Israel) from south to north in 6:46:00 at the age of 43
32. On 18 June 2018 by Avishag Turek (Israel) from south to north in 6:47:00 at the age of 43
33. On 18 June 2018 by Fabrice Beer-Gabel (Israel) from south to north in 6:47:00 at the age of 49
34. On 22 March 2019 by Guy Cohen (Israel) from south to north in 6:40:00 at the age of 54
35. On 22 March 2019 by Eyal Schachner (Israel) from south to north in 6:40:00 at the age of 48
36. On 29 March 2019 by Avishag Turek (Israel) from south to north in 5:50:00 at the age of 44
37. On 30 October 2019 by Avishag Turek (Israel) from north-south-north in 14:54:00 at the age of 44 (two-way)
* On 30 October 2019 in 7:31:00 (1st leg north to south ) + 7:23:00 (2nd leg south to north)
38. On 15 November 2019 by Joe Zemaitis (USA) from south-north-south in 14:52:00 at the age of 39 (two-way)
* On 15 November 2019 in 7:09:00 (1st leg south to north) + 7:43:00 (2nd leg north to south)
39. On 15 November 2019 by John Zemaitis (USA) from south-north-south in 14:52:00 at the age of 36 (two-way)
* On 15 November 2019 in 7:09:00 (1st leg south to north) + 7:43:00 (2nd leg north to south)

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