Saturday, May 23, 2009

Two Amazing Hall of Fame Heroes from Brazil

The International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame honors athletes, coaches, pilots and administrators in the global marathon swimming community. Of the 199 inductees in the International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame, two athletes have been honored from Brazil: Abilio Couto (shown on left) and Igor De Sousa.

Abilio was inducted in 2001. He was the first Brazilian and the first South American to swim the English Channel. Abilio swam from France to England and, with only 14 days rest, swam the other way from England to France in 12 hours and 49 minutes to set a world record in 1959.

He won eight International Long-Distance Swimming Federation events between 1959 and 1975 and was the four-time overall champion in 1959 (in the English Channel), 1961 (in Alexandria, Egypt), 1963 (in Beirut, Lebanon) and 1967 (in the 40K race in Lake Ohrid, Yugoslavia).

He was instrumental in the establishment of the first Brazil National Open Water Championships and many other events including the 25K (15.5-mile) Ilhhabella-Caraguatauba swim. He swam the English Channel three times including his 1959 England-to-France record. He unofficially crossed the Catalina Channel in 1968 as well as the Strait of Gibraltar in 1965, participated in the professional 98K (60-mile) Lake Michigan race from Chicago to Saint Joseph in 1965, the Asswan, Egypt race in 1969, the Suez Canal race in Egypt in 1971, the Mar del Plata race in Argentina in 1960 and Lake Ontario in 1960. One of his last races was the 50-mile Marathon of the Nile race in 1975 where he competed as a 51-year-old against the top professional marathon swimmers. He placed third in 10 hours 46 minutes and 19 seconds, just behind winner Johan Schans of Holland (10:46) and Abdul Latif Abou Heif of Egypt (10:46:17).

Abilio had a tremendously long career that started off in 1955 when he swam 30K (18.6 miles) from Guaujá to São Vicente in Brazil. In 1957, he won the Guaujá to São Vicente race, finished 13th in the professional 32K (20-mile) Maratona del Golfo - Capri Napoli in Italy, finished third in the 60K (37.2-mile) Marathon Over Sur Oise race in France, finished sixth in the 50K (31-mile) Rari de Nantes race in Frane, finished fourth in the 15K (9.3-mile) Brighton Pier-to-Pier race in England, finished third in the 10K (6.2-mile) Lake Windermere race in England and finished third in the 10K Dover-to-Deal race in England.

In 1958, he finished 2nd in the 60K Maraton Over Sur Oise race, fourth in the 50K Rari de Nantes race, second in the 15K Brighton Pier-to-Pier race, won the 10K Lake Windermere race, won the 10K Dover-to-Deal race and successfully swum across the English Channel in 12 hours and 45 minutes.

In 1959, he swam 60K (37.2 miles) from Prova de Tiunfo to Porto Alegre in Brazil in 16 hours and 1 minute, finished second in the 25K (15.5-mile) ILhabella to Caraguatatuba race in Brazil, finished first in the Baía de Maldonado race in Argentina and won the English Channel race from France-to-England in 11 hours and 33 minutes.

Abilio later followed his victory two weeks later with a record-breaking 12 hour and 49 minute swim from England to France.

In 1960, he won the 50K (31-mile) Miramar to Mar del Plata in Argentina, finished second at the Calabria to Sicily race in Italy, finished tirad in the Lago Viverone race in Italy, finished second in the Port Venere race in Italy, finished second in the Sardegna race in Italy, finished second in the 42K (26-mile) professional race in Guaymas, Mexico and finished third in the professional 25K (15-mile) Canadian National Exhibition race in Ontario, Canada.

In 1961, he won the 40K (25-mile) world championship in Alexandria, Egypt, won the Venere race in Italy, the 15K (9.3-mile) Lake Como in Italy and finished second in the Wadenzee race in the Netherlands.

In 1962, he won the 15K (9.3-mile) Lake Como race and the 30K (18.6-mile) Lake Lucerne race in Switzerland.

In 1963, he swam 25K (15.5 miles) in Lake Paranoá in Brazil in 7 hours and 17 minutes, finished third in 25K (15-mile) Canadian National Exhibition professional race in Ontario, Canada and won the 40K (25-mile) world championship in Beirut, Lebanon.

In 1965, he swam the Strait of Gibraltar from Spain to Morocco, finished fourth in the 40K Lake Ohrid professional race in Yugoslavia, finished third in the 40K (25-mile) Suez Canal race in Egypt, finished third in the 45K (28-mile) Saguenay River race from Chicoutimi to Bagotville in Canada, finished third in the 16K (10-mile) Three Rivers race in Canada, swam the Bosphoros in Turkey and finished second in the 98K (60-mile) Lake Michigan race from Chicago to Saint Joseph in 42 hours and 20 minutes.

In 1966, he finished third in the 45K (28-mile) Marathon de Las Playas in Mar Del Plata, Argentina, finished 11th in the 60K (37.2-mile) Santa Fe to Coronda race in Argentina, finished fifth in the 10K Lago El Uilla race in Argentina and finished eighth in the 80K (49.7-mile) Hernandarias to Parana race in Argentina.

In 1967, he finished third in the 45K Saguenay River race, third in the 16K (10-mile) Labath International Swim in Canada, won the 16K Three Rivers race, finished second in the 26K (16-mile) Lac Simon race in Canada, finished fourth in the 16K (10-mile) race in Hamilton, Canada, won the Lake Ohrid world championship in Yugoslavia and finished second in the Suez Canal race.

In 1968, he finished fourth in the Marathon International de Nage "Terre des Hommes" in Lac des Cygnes in Canada and swam 16K (10 miles) in the Salton Sea in California, USA in 4 hours and 25 minutes, 25K (15 miles) from Huntington Beach to Long Beach in California in 6 hours and 17 minutes, 25K (15 miles) across Owen Sound in Canada in 6 hours and 46 minutes and crossed the Catalina Channel from the California mainland to Catalina Island in 11 hours and 7 minutes.

In 1969, he finished third in a 22K (14-mile) race in Quebec, Canada, second in the 16K Hamilton race, won the 34K (21-mile) Traversée internationale du Lac St-Jean professional race in Roberval, Canada, won the 43K (27-mile) Portsmouth to Newport, Rhode Island race in the USA, won the Saguenay River race and finished second in the 21K (13-mile) Ultrech race in the Netherlands.

In 1970, he won the 20K (12.4-mile) Crucas Corrientes to Barran Quilla race in Argentina, won the 40K (25-mile) Antilhas race and finished fourth in the 16K (10-mile) Tokyo Bay race in Japan.

In 1971, he won the 45K (28-mile) Marathon de Los Cabos in Mexico, won the 42K (26-mile) Marathon International de Guaymas in Mexico, finished third in the 22.5K (14-mile) Around the Island Swim in Northfield, USA, won the 38.6K (24-mile) America's Marathon Swim from Island Park to King's Park in Newport Harbour, USA and finished third in the 22.5K (14-mile) Le Quatorze Miles de Pespebiac race in Canada.

In 1972, he finished fourth in the 16K (10-mile) Chicago Lakefront Festival International Marathon Swim Championship and won the 64K (40-mile) John E. Fogarty Memorial Distance Swim Maragansett in Rhode Island to Block Island in the USA.

In 1973, he won the 40K (25-mile) Lake Lucerne race in Switzerland, won the 15K Lake Como race in Italy and the 40K Asswan race in Egypt.

In 1974, he finished sixth in the 29K (18-mile) Suez Canal race in Egypt.

In 1975, he finished a close third in the professional world championship in the 92.5K (50-mile) Nile River race in Egypt.

Over his incredible career, it is estimated that Abilio swam more than 42,334K (26,305 miles) - or more than once around the world (whose circumference around the equator is 40,075K).

Igor De Sousa was inducted in 2004. Igor swam the English Channel in 11 hours and 6 minutes in 1996 as the best male time of the year. He also swam an 18 hour and 33 minute double-crossing of the English Channel in 1997 whose first (9 hours and 31 minutes) and second (9 hours and 2 minutes) legs were the fastest times for crossings in that year.

Igor swam the 48K (28.5-mile) Manhattan Island Marathon Swim four times finishing third in 1991 (7 hours and 8 minutes), second in 1994 (7 hours and 1 minutes), sixth in 1998 (7 hours and 48 minutes) and winning in 2001 in 8 hours and 1 minutes. He started swimming International Marathon Swimming Association events in 1985 and was ranked in the top 10 between 1987 and 1994. For 15 years, he competed all over the world, winning some races and finishing all. He swam 36K (22.5-mile) Around-the-Island Marathon Swim in Atlantic City, USA a total of ten times.

Two very incredible open water swimmers from Brazil.

No comments: