Olympian Nida Eliz Ustundag Wins 2021 Bosphorus Cross-Continental Race

Photo Courtesy: Berkay Gulum/Turkish Olympic Comittee

Olympian Nida Eliz Ustundag Wins 2021 Bosphorus Cross-Continental Race

Nida Eliz Ustundag, a 2016 Turkish Olympian, and Polat Uzer Tunali won the women’s and men’s editions of the 33rd annual Bosphorus Cross-Continental Swimming Race on Saturday.

The event, which has taken place annually since 1989, is sponsored by Samsung and organized by the Turkish Olympic Committee (TOC). It brings swimmers 6.5 kilometers from Kanlica, on the Asian side of Istanbul, to Kurucesme Cemil Topuzlu Park on the European side. This year, the race attracted 2,465 swimmers representing 55 countries, though no spectators were permitted due to COVID-19 restrictions. Both numbers are way up from the 2020 race, which drew 1,765 swimmers from 34 countries last October.

“The Samsung Bosphorus Cross-Continental Swimming Race brought together swimmers from around the world on the Bosphorus, giving them the unique opportunity to swim between two continents in one of the most beautiful cities in the world,” TOC President Prof. Dr. Ugur Erdener said in a press release. “We are very pleased to have successfully delivered this event, which provides lots of positive publicity for our country all over the world through sports, despite the ongoing pandemic. I would like to thank all of the organizations, sponsors and volunteers who contributed to the success of this year’s race, especially the Ministry of Youth and Sports, the Governorship of Istanbul, and the Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality.”

Ustundag was first across the line in the women’s race in a time of 40 minutes, 55 seconds. Ustundag swam at the 2016 Olympics for Turkey in the women’s 200 butterfly, one of four representatives for the country in Rio. (That number increased to 11 Turkish swimmers at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.)

Second in the women’s race was Hilal Zeyneb Sarac in 41:19, a second ahead of Hanna Pasichynk of Ukraine.

The men’s race went to Tunali, who pulled away from the field to win in 38:22. Second was Mustafa Sevenay in 39.57. Both runners-up were the winners of the 2020 edition of the race. Cagatay Alper Ustununal was third in the men’s race.

“Istanbul, the intersection point between continents and cultures, brought together swimmers from almost every region of the world through the Samsung Bosphorus Cross-Continental Swimming Race,” said Nihat Usta, the president of the Bosphorus Race Organization Committee and first vice president of the TOC. “I want to congratulate our swimmers who swam between two continents with the unique views of the Bosphorus and thank everyone who contributed to the successful organization of this unique event.”