July 14, Irkutsk Region — The first international trans-Baikal ecology swimming competition BAIKAL GREAT SWIM, supported by Rosatom State Corporation, the UN Information Center in Moscow and the Government of Irkutsk Region, has come to an end. The swimmers were awarded today in Irkutsk. The awards ceremony was attended by Vadim Titov, President of Rusatom-International Network, Igor Kobzev, Region’s Governor, and Vladimir Kuznetsov, Director of the UN Information Center in Moscow.

The competition has become a very important event in the history of world open water marathon swimming. Its distance was picked up for a reason. In 2019, a group of swimmers (Vyacheslav Timoshenko and Yevgeny Semenyaka from Kerch as well as Zaur Zakrailov from Grozny) supervised by Andrey Bugai, Head of the Irkutsk regional civil society organization “Club of hardening and winter swimming “Pribaikaltsy” made a historic 55 km swim in wetsuits across Lake Baikal along the Vydrino — Listvyanka route. Also in 2020, a group of swimmers (Andrey Bugai from Irkutsk, Oleg Dokuchaev, Maria Chizhova, Pavel Komarov and Yevgeny Zozulya from Vladivostok) swam along the same route, but this time without wetsuits. This year’s task was more challenging: swimming across Lake Baikal and partly the Angara River along the Vydrino — Irkutsk route, no use of insulation means (wetsuits) being allowed.

Nine athletes from Russia, Italy, USA, Morocco, South Africa, France and Great Britain participated in the competition. The swimmers started on July 12 in the village of Vydrino (Buryatia) and finished on July 13 in Irkutsk. The BAIKAL GREAT SWIM route is one of the most difficult in the world. It took 26 hours without rest or sleep to cover its 70 km distance.

All appropriate safety measures were taken during the event. The Emergency Ministry’s  motor boats and barks accompanied the participants along the entire distance.

“This swimming competition is an example of how people from all over the world united to raise awareness of Lake Baikal’s uniqueness and emphasize its value for all mankind. Rosatom State Corporation, as a company located in more than 60 countries, understands the importance of international cooperation and preserving the Baikal ecosystem. It is Rosatom that was appointed today, on the Russian President’s instruction, as a responsible organization for addressing a whole range of environmental issues in the region. In cooperation with the Government of Irkutsk Region and civil society stakeholders we will cope with all the assigned tasks,” stressed Vadim Titov.

According to the athletes, the swim distance was a challenge they coped with although the water temperature in the lake was 5 to 8 °C only.

“The participants demonstrated a tremendous strength of mind, incredible endurance, stamina, and physical strength. It is symbolic that the most important event in the history of world open water marathon swimming is dedicated to Lake Baikal Year, announced in Irkutsk Region,” Igor Kobzev said.

Vladimir Kuznetsov, Director of the UN Information Center in Moscow, has noted that preserving the planet’s environment is a common task, and such events are much proving of that.