J’ai Fait Dakar-Gorée

Courtesy of AFP and Aljazeera, Gorée Island, Dakar, Senegal.

Gorée Island (Île de Gorée) off the coast of the Dakar, the capital city of Senegal, is known as the location of the House of Slaves (French: Maison des esclaves).

The House of Slaves was built between 1780–1784, but is now a tourist destination to show the horrors of the Atlantic slave trade.

Biram Diop is the race director for the 5.2 km prison island swim from the Senegal mainland to Gorée Island.

Reporter Nicolas Haque says here, “This stretch of Atlantic Ocean that separates Dakar from Goree is of historical importance. The island was a major hub for the African slave trade where African men, women and children were captured and boarded in ships to America.

Some in chains tried to escape and swim to the mainland in what was shark-infested water.

The [Traversée à la nage Dakar-île de Gorée] isn’t just a swim race. It is a tribute to those who were remained defiant refusing their fate as slaves instead of swimming to their freedom and resistance and the human spirit’s ability to overcome adversity.”

Senegal naval soldier Adama Thiaw Ndir and competitive pool and open water swimmer has seen much success in his favorite race. Ndir won the race in 2013, 2016, 2018 and 2019 and said after his 2018 victory, “This is a victory, not only for me, but for all our people here in Senegal and around the world.

The Traversée à la nage Dakar-île de Gorée, a popular ocean swim in West Africa, was first held in 1985. The course starts on the mainland from the shores of Dakar to the island of Gorée that is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The event, traditionally held on the last Sunday in September, helps promote swimming in West Africa and is part of an overall lifesaving campaign against drownings. Organized by the Fédération Sénégalaise de Natation et de Sauvetage (Senegalese Federation of Swimming and Rescue), over 600 swimmers take part in its two race distances with the ultimate goal to be able to say, “J’ai Fait Dakar-Gorée” (or I did Dakar-Gorée).

Back on October 15th 1985, Samba Ndoye, Ibra Kare, Hachim Badji, Mbaye Ndiaye, Mohamed Diop, Karim Thioune and 24 others started a 3.5 km race between Dakar and the island of Gorée. Over the years, the start point changed making the race distance as long as 7 km. The race start is now fixed at the Voile d’Or beach in Dakar which faces the island of Gorée.

Male Winners:
1985 Hachim Badji
1986 Mohamed Diop
1987 Samba Ndoye

1988 Samba Ndoye
1989 Samba Ndoye
1993 Abdoulaye Thiaw
1994 Samba Ndoye
1995 Samba Ndoye
1996 Mangoné Samba

1997 Samba Ndoye
1998 Samba Ndoye
1999 Malick Fall

2000 Malick Fall
2001 Malick Fall
2002 Malick Fall
2003 Benjamin Mathieu
2004 Mangoné Samba
2005 Guy Noël Smith
2006 Mouhamed Nagdy
2007 Mangoné Samba
2008 Matar Samb
2009 Malick Fall
2010 Matar Samb
2011 Abdoul Km Niane
2012 Abdoul Km Niane
2013 Adama Thiaw Ndir

2014 Malick Fall
2015 Mamadou Ndoye Diop
2016 Adama Thiaw Ndir
2017 Amadou Ao Ndiaye
2018 Adama Thiaw Ndir
2019 Adama Thiaw Ndir

Female Winners:
1986 Khoudia Kamara
1987 Soda Camara

1988 Soda Camara
1989 Soda Camara
1993 Soda Camara
1994 Alexandra Roucher
1995 Zeïna Saheli

1996 Zeïna Saheli
1997 Zeïna Saheli
1998 Soda Camara
1999 Zeïna Saheli
2000 Zeïna Saheli
2001 Maty Beye
2002 Zeïna Saheli
2003 Jessica Sylla
2004 Jessica Sylla
2005 Khadija Ciss
2006 Louise Smith
2007 Binta Zahra Diop
2008 Oulèye Diallo
2009 Yaye Diadou Diagne

2010 Yaye Diadou Diagne
2011 Yaye Diadou Diagne
2012 Yaye Diadou Diagne
2013 Meredith Anne Staken
2014 Meredith Anne Staken
2015 Jeanne Boutbien
2016 Jeanne Boutbien
2017 Ndèye Tabara Diagne
2018 Ndèye Tabara Diagne
2019 Ndèye Tabara Diagne

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