Eyal Schachner and Guy Cohen - Sea of Galilee (Kinneret)

South to North

20.5 km (12.7 miles)

6 hours, 40 minutes on 3 March 2019

Observed and documented by Gady Benjamin & Fabrice Beer Gabel

Contents

Swimmers

  • Eyal Schachner - male, 47 years old, Israeli citizen residing in Givatayim, Israel.
  • Guy Cohen - male, 54 years old, Israeli citizen residing in Shefayim, Israel.

Support Personnel

  • Lior Eliyahu - pilot
  • Gady Benjamin - observer
  • Fabrice Beer Gabel - observer
  • Dalit Caspi Schachner - support crew

Escort Vessel: Reef (Ein-Gen)


Swim Parameters

  • Category: Tandem solo, nonstop, unassisted.
  • Rules: MSF Rules of Marathon Swimming, without exception or modification.
  • Equipment used: Swim suit, cap, goggles

Route Definition

Tsemach Beach to Amnon Beach

History

LongSwimsDB: Sea of Galilee


Swim Data

  • Start: 3 March 2019, 06:36 (Asia/Jerusalem, UTC+3).
  • Finish: 3 March 2019, 13:14
  • Elapsed: 6 hours, 40 minutes.

Summary of Conditions

Feature Min Max
Water Temp (C) 18 20
Air Temp (C) 16 20
Wind (m/s) 0 2

GPS Track

Trackpoint frequency: 30 minutes. Download raw data (CSV).

Speed Plot

Nutrition:

  • Schachner: One gel every 1/2 hour, 400ml water with GU hydration tab every hour.
  • Cohen: Energy gel every 30 min, 1/2L carb drink every hour.

Observer Log

Download PDF


Narrative

The morning of March 22nd 2019 was enchanting. Thick mist covered the Sea of Galilee (‘Kinneret’) and scents of spring filled the air.

The lake can be tricky in March, during the rainy season, with strong gusts of wind making it unsafe to cross. During summer, air temperature can go as high as 40c and water temperature climbs above 30c. Fortunately, the lake gave us an amicable welcome, with water temperature at 18c to 20c, and air temperature at 16c to 20c. Calm water, without winds or currents, and water surface smooth as a mirror.

After a quick preparation at Ein Gev wharf, we sailed to Zemach beach on the southern tip of the lake, jumped off the boat and swam cautiously to shore, between trees and plants that were covered in water. After a few years of severe draught, this winter had bountiful rain. Israel’s biggest fresh water reservoir, whose level of water we anxiously follow during draughts, received a vital dose of water. The water filled the island that appeared in the lake last year and covered the plantation that grew along the beaches of the lake.

Due to soil erosion from the heavy rain, the water visibility was mostly 1 meter ahead. In the center of the lake visibility improved to not more than 5 meters, which allowed us to see each other underwater.

The crossing was a preparation for our tandem Catalina crossing, planned for July 2019. This was an opportunity for us to work on our feeding plan, duration of feeding and pace. Since we usually swim in the sea, swimming in fresh water required feeding adaptation. Feeds and drinks were handed to us from the escort boat every half an hour. All rules and regulations of a Marathon swim were strictly kept.

The landscape is usually breathtaking. The lake is the lowest freshwater lake on Earth, about 200 meters below sea level. It is surrounded by mountains (Golan Heights and the Galilee Mountains) and located in the Jordan Rift Valley, caused by the separation of the African and Arabian Plates. It is also the place where many of Jesus miracles said to have occurred, including his walking on water.

But ours was a hazy day and air visibility was low. Without a visible destination, we had to put our trust in the captain, to navigate us in the shortest route. We opened fast. Our brains empty of thoughts, focusing on the meditative strokes and keeping course alongside the boat, in the enchanting haze. We were keeping a steady pace, side by side all along the way, with short timed breaks. Later on, fatigue gave its toll and we were forced to adjust feedings. We were vigilant throughout the swim, concerning of a change of weather, since we postponed the crossing twice before, due to gusty winds.

After 5 hours into our swim we could finally spot our target at Amnon beach up ahead, and this gave us the final push to speed up. We reached land and stepped out of the water at 1:16pm, clocking the swim at 6 hours and 40 minutes.

This crossing, for the fourth time for both of us, was another step in a series of open water marathon swimming achievements. Guy Cohen had previously completed a 24h solo swim challenge in the eastern Mediterranean sea (in 2016), covering 70km along the Israeli coast line. He is currently aiming to complete his 3rd leg of the “Triple Crown of Open Water” at the Catalina straight this summer, after completing 20 bridges swim in 2017 and the English Channel in 2018. Eyal Schachner completed the 20 Bridges swim around Manhattan Island in 2018, and will be joining Guy in a Tandem-Swim at Catalina in July 2019.

Up to date, not many swimmers crossed the Sea of Galilee, some of them more than once. We hope that this swim will become more popular, and with more international presence.

History

Open Water Marathon Swimmers participate in the Kinneret crossings and swim either the width crossing (East to West between Kibutz Ein-Gev to the city of Tiberias, 10km) or the full-length crossing (N-S / S-N) which is approx. 20.5km. The first mentioning of a swim across the full Length of the lake appeared in the local newspapers on October 28th, 1944 when Tel-Aviv resident Itzhack Yehezkel swam from Zemach, at the southernmost point of the lake to Tabha, in the north. It took him 9 hours and 44 minutes to complete.


Photos

Click to enlarge.


Video

Eyal Schachner and Guy Cohen - Sea of Galilee (Kinneret) from MSF on Vimeo.


Weather Data