Petar Stoychev Won Before Darkness Fell

Courtesy of Lynn Blouin of the International Marathon Swimming Association, Mar del Plata, Argentina.

The reach, passion and impact of Claudio Plit is vast.

Back in 1998, Plit prodded, lobbied and negotiated to re-establish a 38 coastal swim between Miramar and Mar del Plata in his native Argentina. Not since 1962 had this profesional marathon swim went along the beautiful coastline. But after a 36-year hiatus, Plit was able to organize the swim. Lynn Blouin of the International Marathon Swimming Association recalled the event, “This dream of Claudio was worth holding on to, for it is the most beautiful race to watch. For the first three hours, you can see the whole convoy of boats and swimmers from the high shores. We have to admit the weather was especially nice, the ocean looking like a pool…until mid-afternoon when the wind picked up, making the second half extremely difficult with waves just growing stronger and stronger until the end.

Because [the race] took a lot longer than expected, only four swimmers had the time to cross the finish line before total darkness, which was kind of sad for the others who had struggled for more than 11 hours. Without hesitation, Mar del Plata will be, from now on, THE most demanding event in the world.”

The Maratón Acuática Internacional Miramar-Mar del Plata was held on March 1st 1998. With the water temperature at 18°C and air temperature at 30°F, the 38 km race started off in great conditions. Under sunny skies with no wind for the first 5 hours of the race, the ocean was calm and tranquil. But then the winds picked up and strong, powerful waves hit the swimmers for the entire second half of the race.

Petar Stoychev was early in his marathon swimming career and pulled ahead to win one his many professional races that he would win over the next 20 years. Only the first four swimmers finished the coastal course before darkness enveloped the coastal course.

As night fell, all the swimmers were taken out of the water for safety reasons. It became too difficult to see the swimmers and know the course. The final placing were based on the relative positions of the swimmers in the water when the race was officially stopped.

Men’s Results:
1. Petar Stoychev (Bulgaria) 10 hours 49 minutes 14 seconds
2. Nicolas Knap (France) 11 hours 0 minutes 2 seconds
3. André Wilde (Germany) 11 hours 2 minutes 41 seconds
4. Nace Majcen (Slovenia) 11 hours 17 minutes 44 seconds
5. Mohamed Marouf (Egypt) no time given due to darkness
6. Hossam Salah El Din Morsy (Egypt) no time given due to darkness
7. Khaled El Saidy (Egypt) no time given due to darkness
8. Diego Lopez (Argentina) no time given due to darkness
9. Mohamed Salah El Din Morsey (Egypt) no time given due to darkness
10. Ahmed Abdalla (Egypt) no time given due to darkness

Women’s Results:
1. Lubna Mualla (Syria) no time given due to darkness
2. Rudaina Mualla (Syria) no time given due to darkness
3. Morgan Filler (USA) no time given due to darkness

Vanessa Bouisset (France)
Mohamed Hatem Seif (Egypt)
Jose Rodini Luiz Filho (Brazil)
Firas Mualla (Syria)
Patricio D’Ottavio (Argentina)
Veronica Kessouani (Argentina)
Igor Majcen (Slovenia)
Irene van der Laan (Netherlands)

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