Six Israelis broke a world record on Saturday when they swam 380 kilometers in 124 hours from Cyprus to Israel.
The six, who broke the world record for swimming in the open sea, arrived in Tel Aviv on Saturday morning exhausted but content. "We did it. Our muscles hurt, and our hearts are filled with pride," the group's coach, Uri Selah, said.
It took the group six days to swim from Cyprus to Israel, during which they swam 380 kilometers in the open sea.
The six set out to break the record to raise awareness to saving the sea and preventing water pollution. They called on the public to join the Zalul environmental NGO in actively working to keep the ocean waters clear and transparent.
The Guinness Book of World Records was expected to recognize the record after confirming it, and the World Open Water Swimming Association has nominated the swimmers for the annual WOWSA Awards.
The six - Oded Rahav, Uri Selah, Udi Arel, Ben Anosh, Doron Amosi and Luke Shetbon started swimming from the Paphos Port in Cyprus on Sunday afternoon. Each of them swam for one hour, four times a day, making 2-4 kilometers on average until he was replaced by another swimmer. According to the rules, there needed to be at least one swimmer in the water at any given moment - both during the day and night.
"The muscles are starting to ease up and the body is full of adrenaline," said Selah, who trained the group for the past year. "We've trained for every possible extreme scenario, including swimming in cold waters, swimming without sleep and dealing with stucks of jellyfish."
"It's only after such a long and invigorating swim that you learn to appreciate this amazing and powerful sea," he added.
On day two, the swimmers were joined by a pod of dolphins. "At first we were a bit concerned, and they hindered us because they were created counter-currents, but it was an amazing experience," Selah said.
Ben Anosh was bitten by a fish while swimming at night, but carried on. "It was scary and on the third time I felt biting on my legs I started yelling to wake everyone on the boat up," he said. "I didn't consider to stop swimming for a moment, even if it had been a shark."
The swimmers were greeted by Environmental Protection Minister Amir Peretz who congratulated them on their achievement, as well as the Zalul NGO that Peretz said has inspired him to protect the sea.
"The challenges we face increase as Israel's territorial waters are becoming economic waters. The fact the swimmers knew exactly when they entered Israeli waters shows we have the obligation to continue working hard to fight pollution in the water."
Zalul Director Maya Jacobs said that "it's not every day we get an opportunity to take part in breaking a world record. These six wonderful men swam to raise awareness to preserving the sea, and thanks to them thousands of others have joined the cause."