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My Bosphorus: the story of one victory

Bosphorus … many professional swimmers and ambitious amateurs dream of a 6.5 km intercontinental swim. But for many, the Bosphorus remains a pipe dream, because of millions of dreams of getting here, and only 2400 people from all over the world can. This year, luck smiled at me too: on the night of January 3, I managed to buy a participant’s slot (ticket). And now I can’t wait to share my victory story, which may inspire you to try your hand at the Bosphorus.

How it was

For me, participation in the swim began with the purchase of a slot. Of course, there was still a stage of registration on the website of the Turkish Olympic Committee, but my son Alexander was engaged in this, thank you very much for that. Next, I chose with whom to train. Chose LIVE.LOVE. Well, then came the day of registration. I arrived at the cafe at 11 pm, workers helped me set up a computer for registration. Then another 3 and a half hours of waiting and now, at 2:30 am a loud command was given: “It has begun!” Next, an unpleasant surprise awaited me: registration was in English. Well, thanks for not being in Turkish. One of the participants helped me register, which once again proved that there are no competitors on the Bosphorus, but only strong-minded people.

The longest was the last 60 seconds before the end of the registration. The countdown began, which seemed to last forever. And here it is – the finale! I am a participant in the swim on the Bosphorus, the competition that millions are dreaming of. After 10 minutes, I realized that not everyone smiled at luck; many people left the cafe upset. Everyone did not sleep at home – they were waiting for news.

So, having received the coveted slot, I moved on to the more prosaic part – training. There were two unpleasant moments: the last time I swam in 1978, and recently I had bilateral pneumonia. My pulmonologist did everything he could, but in January I could not swim without stopping even 100 meters. I was still training in Sport Life, but I added more classes with my sister Elena Gural, with whom we created a “champion diary”, in which each meter was recorded. In March, I already swam for nearly a kilometre. At the same time, I began to study at LIVE.LOVE and… persuade a pulmonologist to let me go to the Bosphorus. The doctor’s reaction was normal: he forbade the swim, because I still breathe medicine from the spray twice a day, like an asthmatic. I simply do not have enough breath for the intercontinental swim. I went through one examination after another and continued training. In April, I swam for pleasure for 3 km. (but with LIVE.LOVE still 1 km.), the respiratory spray has already thrown. Next, I trained already in open water. It was a very interesting and informative experience because there are currents in the reservoirs. The first competition (200 m.) I swam and received my first medal. In training, I already swam butterfly on 50 meters and reached 100 meters without stopping. Then there were 3.8 km competitions and in my category, I got first place. Then the Dnieper crossed in Zaporizhzhia, and then the Bosphorus.

The anticipation was heady: I’m ready, I’m healthy! The style of swimming I decided to choose when I jump. In order not to frighten the depth (40 meters) I bought dark glasses for myself.

On July 19, my luggage were already packed, and I drove to the airport. Sister Elena went with me to the Bosphorus, she, not hiding her excitement, was waiting on the shore.

The night before the swim was restless, it was not possible to sleep normally. In the morning we arrived at the place of registration, at 9:30 am we began to issue starter kits, and we began to move toward the goal. Here I realized what a huge number of people want to cross the Bosphorus – 2400 people. There were 2 days left before the competition, which I devoted to studying the route (once again), walking along with the starting town and, of course, rest.

On the eve of the swim, I went to bed early and, of course, I could not sleep. In the morning, intercepting a sandwich with tea, I sit down in a transfer. All the way I felt festive.


When all preparations were over, we began to slowly move towards the ship to land. Participants filled 2 ships: youngsters in red caps, older swimmers in orange. There were also participants in yellow caps – strong-willed people with disabilities.

We are swimming at the launch site. The organizers attach a pontoon from which we will jump. The height is terrifying. But you need to move quickly so that no one on top jumps and spoils the hat

I’m running along the red carpet, the chip fixes the start time. I was so afraid that I was in the forefront. How I jumped, emerged, and swam away remember vaguely, all this happened very quickly. I decided to swim calmly, enjoying the beauties of the Bosphorus.

I got into a cold current, so I reached the first bridge, and there is already the middle of the way. Ahead are the second bridge and balloons. Swim to them, but… they are not approaching. Rowing is already very desperate, but the balls are farther and farther. A swimmer nearby has already taken off his cap and is waving – asking for help.

I realized that I was in a counterflow, I had to turn 90° and return within. Almost at the finish line, I again got into a countercurrent, began to desperately thrash my feet to steer the situation. And here they are – balloons. Finish!

Climbing the stairs quickly, running along the red carpet, taking the time. At the finish meets Nastya from LIVE.LOVE. Hugs, congratulations. Following the certificate, I go through the first-aid post with the thought: “Thank God, I’m not here.”


So I conquered the Bosphorus. I think that from this stage a new milestone in my life will begin, in which there will be a place for new achievements. What did the Bosphorus give me?

  1. The ability to stifle a panic in yourself and move towards the goal.
  2. Ability to make decisions quickly in difficult situations.
  3. The understanding that I have a reliable rear is a family that supported me from the moment of registration to obtaining the certificate of an intercontinental swimmer.

But most importantly – I had a desire to move on, to conquer new peaks, depths and distances. But half a year ago I was just a patient of a pulmonologist who lived with a spray can in her hands.



Marina Ublinskykh

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