History: The Strait of Gibraltar

Who has swum the Strait of Gibraltar before?

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Photo: The view of Africa from the shore in Tarifa, Spain


The first recorded swim of the Strait of Gibraltar was by Mercedes Glitz, a British professional swimmer. She was also the first British woman to swim the English Channel. She swum the strait in 1928 in 12 hours and 50 minutes. As a professional swimmer she received a number of endorsements and Rolex apparently still uses her achievement in their publicity.

Further swims of the Strait of Gibraltar were completed in 1948, however, it was not until this century that interest in swimming the strait gained popularity. Before the year 2000, only 60 successful swims of the strait were recorded, but now in total over 500 people have swum the Strait.

Knowledge of the currents in the strait and the best approach to swim has improved and, as a result, the average time for swimming the strait has come down. Mercedes’s swim in 1928 is also the longest recorded swim. In recent history, only a handful of swims have taken over 5 hours.

The record for the fastest swim was achieved by 10km Open Water specialist Georgics Charcharis who stopped the clock at 2 hours and 16 minutes in 2009.