The Open Water Swimming Legacy Of Naste Jončeski

Courtesy of Vojislav Mijić, Šabac, Serbia.

Naste Jončeski is a long-time open water swimmer from North Macedonia. “Naste is my friend for over 40 years; we first swam our together in 1977 at the Faros Maratón, a 16 km race from Stari Grad to Faros in Yugoslavia,” recalled Vojislav Mijić.

From that time on, we swam many many races together and organized new races. He was promoting marathon swimming as a sport everywhere he went. He coached swimmers in the famous Ohrid Lake Swimming Marathon (Охридски Пливачки Маратон) and he served to promote the 19 km International Jarak-Šabac Marathon Swim over 30 years. He is very very good man and quite popular in the Balkan countries.”

Jončesk tells of his childhood, “I was born in 1949 in a small picturesque town of Ohrid in a Yugoslav state of Macedonia, now the independent state the North Macedonia. I had some health problems as a child so the doctors recommended that I take up swimming to improve my health condition. I learnt to swim at the age of 6 as there was a lake close to my house, so I started spending a lot of time there with my school friends and my closest neighbor swimming or just playing games.

It was then that my love for open water and swimming was born
.”

When he was 13, he watched the first Ohrid International Swimming Marathon held in 1962. He recalled the race, “The swimmers were swimming across the clear blue water so smoothly. I dreamed that one day I would become a swimmer like them, maybe even a famous one who people would recognize and applaud. In order to make this dream come true, I started practicing really hard in the lake of Ohrid. I also took part in some shorter races nearby.”

Over the course of his career, he took part in dozens of open water swims:

* 1968 solo 20 km swim from Peštani to Struga in 5:42:01, 05:35:29
* 1968 solo 11 km swim from Lagadin to Ohrid in 3:05:10
* 1969 solo 20 km swim from Peštani to Struga in 5:35:29
* 1969 solo 12 km swim from Struga to Ohrid in 4:17:15
* 1969 solo 11 km swim from Lagadin to Ohrid in 3:01:37
* 1970 5th place in the 11 km Magnetic Island to Townsville, Australia in 3:01:22
* 1970 solo 12 km swim in Lake Illawarra, New South Wales, Wollongong, Australia in 3:09:42
* 1971 Le Marathon de 24 Heures de La Tuque in Lac La Tuque, Québec, Canada
* 1972 DNF 32 km Traversée internationale du lac St-Jean in Québec, Canada pulled at 3 hours 4 minutes
* 1972 36 km Maratona del Golfo Capri-Napoli, Italy, OTL
* 1974 20th place in the 36 km Maratona del Golfo Capri-Napoli, Italy in 9:20:58
* 1974 7th place in the 16 km Traversée du lac Laval in Montreal, Canada in 4:30:19
* 1974 solo 25 km swim in Lake Prespa, Macedonia, Yugoslavia in 6:30:05
* 1975 16th place in the 36 km Maratona del Golfo Capri-Napoli, Italy in 9:27:12
* 1975 solo 25 km swim in Lake Prespa, Macedonia, Yugoslavia in 6:12:16
* 1976 OTL in the 36 km Maratona del Golfo Capri-Napoli, Italy
* 1976 4th place in the 16 km Faros Maratón in Stari Grad, Croatia (Yugoslavia) in 4:15:22
* 1976 solo 44 km swim from Saint Naum to Struga-Ohrid in Macedonia, Yugoslavia in 17:55:18
* 1976 5th place in 16 km Traversée du Chibougmau in Québec, Canada in 4:10:10
* 1977 7th place in the 16 km Faros Maratón in Stari Grad, Croatia (Yugoslavia) in 4:22:06
* 1977 19th place in the 36 km Maratona del Golfo Capri-Napoli, Italy in 9:51:28
* 1978 solo 10 km swim in Lake Mavrovo, Macedonia, Yugoslavia in 3:30:54
* 1979 solo 10 km swim in Lake Mavrovo, Macedonia, Yugoslavia in 3:21:16
* 1979 solo 12 km swim from Peštani to Ohrid, Macedonia in 3:05:43
* 1980 4th place in 16 km Sluis marathon in Flanderen, Netherlands in 4:29:16
* 1981 12th place in 16 km Faros Maratón in Stari Grad, Croatia (Yugoslavia) in 4:26:10
* 1982 7th place in 19 km International Jarak-Šabac Marathon Swim in Serbia (Yugoslavia) in 3:22:10
* 1984 5 km swim in Sozopol, Bulgaria
* 1984 solo 15 km swim in Lake Prespa, Macedonia in 4:10:16
* 1985 solo 10 km swim in Lake Mavrovo, Macedonia in 3:22:38
* 1988 solo 15 km swim in Lake Dojran, Macedonia in 4:08:28
* 1989 solo 29 km swim from Saint Naum to Ohrid-Grašnica, Macedonia in 8:32:00
* 1990 12th place in 19 km International Jarak-Šabac Marathon Swim in Serbia (Yugoslavia) in 3:32:18
* 2000 15th place in 19 km International Jarak-Šabac Marathon Swim in Serbia (Yugoslavia) in 3:30:35
* 2002 solo 15 km swim in Lake Prespa, Macedonia in 4:08:26
* 2003 10 place in the 19 km International Jarak-Šabac Marathon Swim in Serbia in 3:26:47
* 2003 solo 10 km swim in Simonstown, South Africa in 3:02:34
* 2003 2 km swim in Simonstown, South, South Africa
* 2003 5 km Varna-Galata Swimming Marathon (Плувен маратон Галата-Варна) in Bulgaria
* 2004 5 km Varna-Galata Swimming Marathon (Плувен маратон Галата-Варна) in Bulgaria
* 2004 10th place in the 19 km International Jarak-Šabac Marathon Swim in Serbia in 3:28:27
* 2004 4 km in Apatin, Serbia in the Danube River
* 2005 5 km Varna-Galata Swimming Marathon (Плувен маратон Галата-Варна) in Bulgaria
* 2006 5 km Varna-Galata Swimming Marathon (Плувен маратон Галата-Варна) in Bulgaria
* 2006 3 km in Bečej, Serbia in the River Tisa
* 2007 5 km Varna-Galata Swimming Marathon (Плувен маратон Галата-Варна) in Bulgaria
* 2008 3 km in Bečej, Serbia in the River Tisa
* 2008 5 km Varna-Galata Swimming Marathon (Плувен маратон Галата-Варна) in Bulgaria
* 2009 5 km in Lake Tikveš, Macedonia
* 2009 5 km Varna-Galata Swimming Marathon (Плувен маратон Галата-Варна) in Bulgaria
* 2010 4.5 km Šabac Marathon in Serbia
* 2010 5 km Varna-Galata Swimming Marathon (Плувен маратон Галата-Варна) in Bulgaria
* 2011 5 km Varna-Galata Swimming Marathon (Плувен маратон Галата-Варна) in Bulgaria
* 2011 solo 5 km swim in Sozopol, Bulgaria
* 2012 12th place in 16 km Lake Trichonida Crossing in Greece in 5:36:54
* 2012 5 km Varna-Galata Swimming Marathon (Плувен маратон Галата-Варна) in Bulgaria
* 2013 4 km in Apatin, Serbia in the River Danube
* 2013 5 km Varna-Galata Swimming Marathon (Плувен маратон Галата-Варна) in Bulgaria
* 2013 3 km in Bečej, Serbia in the River Tisa
* 2013 4 km in the Kanjiža River in Tisa, Serbia
* 2014 5 km in Lake Dojran, Macedonia
* 2014 5 km in Lake Kozjak, Macedonia
* 2014 5 km Varna-Galata Swimming Marathon (Плувен маратон Галата-Варна) in Bulgaria
* 2015 5 km Varna-Galata Swimming Marathon (Плувен маратон Галата-Варна) in Bulgaria
* 2015 solo 10 km swim in Lake Prespa, Macedonia in 3:32:29
* 2015 3 km in Bečej, Serbia in the River Tisa
* 2015 4 km in Ada–Mol in the River Tisa in Serbia
* 2015 solo 10 km swim from Struga to Ohrid, Macedonia in 3:12:43
* 2016 5 km Varna-Galata Swimming Marathon (Плувен маратон Галата-Варна) in Bulgaria
* 2016 3 km in Lake Panonia, Serbia
* 2016 3 km in Lake Krivaja, Serbia
* 2017 7th in 10 km Brčko Plivački Maraton (Brcko Distrikt International Swimming Marathon), BiH in the River Danube in 1:42:10
* 2017 5 km Varna-Galata Swimming Marathon (Плувен маратон Галата-Варна) in Bulgaria

He has also organized many solo swims and been a member of many swimming committees including the FINA Grand Prix Ohrid Lake Marathon event [shown above] and promoted the International Jarak-Šabac Marathon Swim numerous times. “I have promoted marathon swimming worldwide all my life. I am proud because I can share my experiences with others and can teach children how to swim and share advice to people who need guidance in pursuing a healthy lifestyle through swimming.”

In addition to continuing to swim for the rest his life, he also has promised to promoting open water swimming and the sport of marathon swimming to future generations. “Marathon swimming is my big love. I have made a lot of friends through this sport all over the world and enjoy it all to the fullest.”

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