Bogdan Cosmin Zurbagiu - Lake Razelm

Sabangia to Gura Portitei (North to South)

32.5 km (20.2 miles)

11 hours, 50 minutes on 6 September 2020

Observed and documented by Marius Grigore



Support Personnel

  • Mihai Badea - tandem swimmer (wetsuit)
  • Catalin Nicolae - crew
  • Dan Parjolea - crew
  • Nicolae Albu - crew
  • Liviu Popovici - boat captain
  • Liviu Rogojinaru - logistics and organization (2nd boat)
  • Sterica Fudulea - logistics and organization (2nd boat)
  • Eugen Ion (Jurilovca town mayor) - logistics and organization (2nd boat)

Observer Marius Grigore is federal coach and member of the Federal Committee of the Romanian National Swimming Federation, affiliated to FINA and LEN. He is also general manager of Bucharest Sport Club.

Escort Vessel

Name Type Port
Jurilovca 8 Merry Fisher Jurilovca

Swim Parameters

  • Category: Solo, nonstop, unassisted.
  • Rules: MSF Rules of Marathon Swimming, without exception or modification.
  • Equipment used: TYR Racer brief, goggles (TYR Special Ops), silicone cap.

Route Definition

  • Body of Water: Lake Razelm
  • Route Type: one-way
  • Start Location: Delta Royal boat ramp, Sabangia (44.966598, 28.891802)
  • Finish Location: Gura Portitei boat ramp / marina (44.689336, 29.00361)
  • Minimum Route Distance: 32.5 km (20.2 miles) (map)


No known swims of this route.

Swim Data

  • Start: 6 September 2020, 07:57 (Europe/Bucharest, UTC3).
  • Finish: 6 September 2020, 19:48
  • Elapsed: 11 hours, 50 minutes, 43 seconds.

Summary of Conditions

Feature Min Max
Water Temp (C) 22.5 26.9
Air Temp (C) 19 28
Wind (kph) 10 15

GPS Track

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

Click to expand map.

Speed Plot

Nutrition: See log.

Observer Log

Download PDF

Swimmer Statement

What inspired you to do this swim?

We felt it was too early to finish the 2020 season, after lake Bicaz swim and we were looking for another swimming location on Romania’s map. I noticed the largest stretch of water in the Danube Delta Natural Reservation and it was lake Razelm (a.k.a. Razim). Danube is the 2nd largest European river, over 2800 kms long and the largest source of fresh water flowing in the Black Sea. Where it reaches the Black Sea it creates the Danube Delta, which is the Europe’s largest and best-preserved deltas, being part of UNESCO’s World Heritage sites. Lake Razelm has been dammed in the 1980’s and has about 400 sq kilometers with a maximum depth of 3 meters and it is the largest Romanian lake. At the south of the lake, there is Lake Golovita and their waters meet in Capul Dolosman, When it was communicating with the Black Sea, at Capul Dolosman there was the oldest historical ruin Argamum Fortress (Greek name), dating to the 6th century B.C.

We started doing research and read about the bad name of the lake, for its high winds and dangerous waves, due also to its small depth and large water surface, therefore if we could put in place a great logistics – this would be the next BIG challenge. And we did have all the support for logistics.

Please describe how you planned for the swim.

As we did for lake Vidraru and lake Bicaz, I (Bogdan Zurbagiu) was going to swim unassisted as per marathon swimmers rules along with my friend Mihai Badea, who was going to swim in wetsuit. (About Mihai you can read more in our documented swim for Lake Vidraru, 2020)

During the documentation, I noticed that there are limited options to enter and exit the water. For start, there were two boat ramps in North, one in Sabangia town (used) and alternatively one in Sarichioi town. At the finish, there would be only one option Gura Portitei, although this meant that we were not only swimming the whole Razelm, but also go through the Capul Dolosman rough area were two lakes meet (Razelm and Golovita) therefore ending in complex waters. So we chose the straight line between Sabangia town (Delta Royal vila boat ramp) and Gura Portitei marina, the longest length of the lake.

We have asked the help of the Mayor of Jurilovca town, Mr Eugen ION, because this man and his team had the best experience on the lake. They are the guardian angels on the lake and have already saved tens of lives with their hands and with the municipality’s boat. The initial intended swim day was Saturday, 5th Sept.

We met the Mr Ion on Friday and looking at the weather forecast, Mr Ion confirmed we have the full support of the municipality but he considers the waters extremely dangerous for a Saturday swim, due to 50kms/h wind and more than 1.5m waves. Nonetheless we could go and check the lake – to familiarize ourselves with the conditions on the lake and calibrate with the team and boat captain.

So we went on Saturday, swum near the start point – see how and if the entry can take place – and it was fine, but we also swum near Capul Dolosman. In this later point, the water was romantically terrifying. The water was in all directions and the wind was strong. The Mayor was right. So we moved the swim for Sunday, 6th September, for better conditions.

How did the swim go, generally? Did you face any unanticipated challenges?

Sunday 6th September 2020, We got up at 4:30 AM and drove from Tulcea town, were we were accomodated to Jurilovca town, were we met the boat captain Liviu Popovici at 6:30 AM, right after sunrise. By 7:30 AM we reached the starting point Sabangia town, Delta Royal vila. The wind and water were ok.

With us, at the start point, the boat/ captain, observer and the support crew were on boat at around 100m from boat ramp, because of the small water level (the high winds pushed the Lake Razelm water to Lake Golovita and water level in Lake Razelm dropped). Our friend Dan Parjolea, support crew, was filming entry from 2-3 meters distance. At different points of the swim, there were 50km wind gusts creating impressive water movements.

We went initially for a 30minutes breaks, which we eventually reduced to 20-25 minutes breaks – especially in Capul Dolosman area. In this respective area, we noticed strong lateral currents. Because the wind was lower than the previous days, the waters that initially went from Lake Razelm to Lake Golovita, was returning, so we were pushed lateral (to our left, towards East). Very often the water temp dropped for only for short distances, noticing some under water rivers.

There were no remarkable incidents. Towards the end my hands started to feel numb and I had some back pains. I did not use ibuprofen or other pain relief support, but I think that for bigger efforts than this one – I should consider this option.

For the first time in my marathon swims I had no pain due to cramp. Days before the swim I started taking some Magnesium and the feeding during this swim was more complex than before (better breakfast, eating more during swim and starting with some pre-workout drinks before the isodrinks) – so I also never felt hungry, as I did before.

In the last kilometers, a second boat arrived with our families (incl. my kinds) and the rest of our friends. The clock “stopped” and we exited in Gura Potitei marina after swimming 34.875 meters and 11hrs 50minutes 43 seconds, as shown by the GPSLogger phone app at finish. What other best place to exit than the “guest reception” area?

I am very happy I did this swim in the company of special people to me. My 78yrs grandfather was part of my support crew for the entire swim, while my kids had been cheering for us, during the last kilometers. The swim has been possible because Lake Razelm has allowed us.

Once allowed “access”, I am grateful I could swim and this would not be possible if it wasn’t for:

  • the support of Mr Liviu Rogojinaru, Mr Sterica Fudulea and the Jurilovca’s Mayor Mr Eugen Ion – to facilitate all our logistical needs
  • our support crew that took care of us
  • and my observer of the swim Mr. Marius Grigore, who sacrificed his precious time to observe the swim, with his rich experience.

Below website about Lake Razelm:



From Radio Romania Actualitati: