There is a series of open water swims in Sicily near or in the Strait of Messina held annually in August and September. The Strait of Messina is a narrow channel between the eastern tip of Sicily and the southern tip of Calabria (see map below) which is on the Italian mainland.
The first race is the 5.2K 45th annual Traversata dello Stretto with the longest history and a difficult course across the Strait of Messina. First crossed in 1930, the Strait has strong currents and natural whirlpools that make for a challenging and enjoyable event to do and watch, especially on a clear day. The Traversata dello Stretto starts at Torre Faro, crosses the Strait of Messina to a turn in Cannitello in Calabria on the Italian mainland, then traverses along the Italian coast and finished in Villa San Giovanni.
The second race is the 11th annual Trofeo Baia di Grotta (see finish point on left). The third race is the 1.8K II Trofeo Onda Azzurra along the Calabria coast. The fourth race is 36th annual 3.7K Favazzina-Scilla swim in late August. The fifth race is the 5.1K XI Memoria Nino Sofi. The sixth race is the 3K Città di Reggio Calabria II in September.
In 1985, the world-renowned Lynne Cox visited the Strait of Messina to attempt to break the record of Monia Scalzo. In 1963, Mary Margaret Revell became the first woman to complete a double-crossing. Later this year, Mary will be back to replicate her swim, 46 years after her first time. Her timer will be the son of the timer of her first swim. Cheering Mary will be the The Shark of the Strait 88 year old Nino Musciumarra who was with Mary 46 years ago.
The history is long and colorful in the Strait of Mesina.
Photo of the Traversata dello Stretto race and Nino Musciumarra are courtesy of Nino Fazio.