More than 500 swimmers on Sunday took part in the Dakar to Gorée Island swimming race in Senegal. The Dakar-Goree Swim in its 34th edition is an annual open water swimming event between the beach of Dakar and Goree island.
Organisers said the annual event, in its 34th edition, would be "a good stage" for young swimmers preparing for the Youth Olympic Games, which are due to be held in Senegal in 2026.
"This Dakar-Gorée crossing is really exciting and a challenge for everyone" says Lamine Ndoye, vice-president of the Senegalese Swimming Federation. "And for young people planning to prepare for the YOG (Youth Olympic Games, ed), it's a good opportunity to take part because it's young people at this age who can take part in this Dakar-Gorée crossing, as well as experienced senior swimmers taking part in international competitions" Ndoye added.
Many spectators watched and cheered the swimmers. "This crossing is a good initiative. We are asking the government to boost the swimming sector and to promote this event. We saw swimmers of all ages - there are children aged 7 and 8, and people aged 65. It's a good activity for the health and the economy of Gorée Island." one spectator said.
There were two categories in the race namely Race A, with professionals covering 5,200 meters, starting from Voile d'Or. Race B, for amateurs featured some 400 swimmers according to Magatte Dièye, president of the Fédération Sénégalaise de natation et sauvegarde (FSNS).
Ousseynou Diop won the men's race and expressed joy saying he deserved it. "I'm very happy because I knew I was going to win. I trained hard, morning and night, and I made a lot of sacrifices. So if I come out on top in this race, I can say I truly deserve it."
Amongst the spectators was the mayor of Goree Island Augustin Senghor. "I think that's how we'll give our children, our young people, a love of the sea and a culture of swimming. Because I think that in Senegal we should have no problem detecting... having a pool of young swimmers because we have the sea everywhere" the mayor said.
The Dakar-Gorée crossing was launched in 1985 as a tribute to slavery’s victims who remained defiant and tried to swim, often in chains, for freedom. It has always been a regular event, except during the Covid years (2020-2021).