Thursday June 8th, 2023
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This Egyptian Triathlete is Swimming the Length of Egypt to Take a Stand Against Single-Use Plastics

Omar El Galla means business...

Staff Writer

Hot off the heels of two gruelling expeditions that saw him cycle and run cross-country, Egyptian triathlete, Omar El Galla, is back with the last piece of the trifecta. This month, attempting to raise awareness about the effects of single-use plastic and how it’s negatively affecting the environment, El Galla is planning on swimming 9,000 km from the north of Suez to the south of Shalateen - the length of the country - via the Red Sea in three months.

“My hope is to get people to be more aware of this issue, start paying attention and adjusting their consumption patterns,” he wrote on his crowd-funding page. “After cycling around and running the length of Egypt, this swim is expected to be the hardest challenge I have done to date, both mentally and physically, while also demanding extensive planning and training. This swim is the third and final chapter of my quest to tour Egypt human-powered, thus completing what can be called the ‘Egypt Extreme Triathlon’.”

The swim, sanctioned by World Open Water Swimming Association (WOWSA), has Galla swimming 12 to 15 km, passing by Sokhna, Zaafarana, Ras Gharib, El Gouna, Hurghada, Safaga, Quseer, Marsa Alam, Hamata and Berenice. He will be accompanied by three of his friends, one of which is a filmmaker documenting the whole journey, on a sailboat, which is where he will eat, rest and sleep between swims over the 90 day journey.

His first expedition had him cycling 6500 km from in 65 days, living on a budget of EGP 50 per day (less than $3), and completely self-supported and solo, carrying everything he needed on his bike. The one before that had him running 1500 km from Abu Simbel to Alexandria in 36 days, also solo and self-supported. His crowdfunding for this trip will cover his food supply, the boat rental cost, swimming and safety gear and production costs. 

“While cycling around the country, I would know if I'm approaching a town or city a couple of kilometers away just by the sight of plastic bags flying around in the desert. While running along the Nile, I saw plastic bags and bottles floating all over the river, water canals and in the agricultural lands. While training at sea for this swim, I would bump into bits and pieces of plastic waste floating around, stuck in corals and littering the beaches,” El Galla wrote. “It does not decompose; it lingers around for hundreds of years affecting both the environment and our health. An average person uses hundreds of single-use plastic products every year. To give just one example, a person can use around 150 plastic bags annually. Every plastic bag or water bottle is used only for a couple of hours, then they linger around for more than a lifetime. I want to shed light on this issue and suggest altering our consumption patterns by doing small things that have a big impact.”

You can find his crowdfunding campaign here, find him on Instagram and on his website

Main Image: Omar Zain