Dead Sea Swim Challenge
2016-11-15

Press Release: Dead Sea Swim Challenge
Embargoed to 10 am November 15, 2016

On November 15th, a team of some 30 swimmers from the region and around the world will embark on a 7-hour swim across the Dead Sea, from the Jordanian shore to the Israeli shore, using special full-facial masks to prevent the salt from entering their eyes and lungs.

The Dead Sea Swim Challenge is the first ever swim crossing of the Dead Sea; a complex, life threatening undertaking, designed to raise awareness of the Sea's demise and call for concerted action on the part of our governments to deal with the root causes of the Dead Sea’s demise. The event has been initiated by an adventurous and inspiring group of international and local swimmers who came up with the idea of a never-tried-before Dead Sea Swim as a call for action. EcoPeace Middle East regionally and the Tamar Regional Council in Israel are sponsoring the event.

The Challenge for the swimmers:
Extremely salty water (up to 36%)! Swimmers require a special full-face snorkeling mask.
• Due to the high density, one floats unnaturally and needs to adapt one's swimming style and posture accordingly.
• It is dangerous! A drop in the eye causes severe irritation, and chance swallowing of its water can be fatal if not treated immediately. (Swimmers will be accompanied by a professional medical team).

The swim will begin at about 7:00 in the morning from the Jordanian shore. A public event will be held on the shores of Ein Gedi Spa at around 14:00, once all of the swimmers have crossed the finish line.

Media are invited to photograph the finish line and award ceremony and interview the swimmers and sponsors at the Ein Gedi Spa located on the shore of the Dead Sea. Refreshments and lunch will be available as well.


For more information please contact Erin Falah at 050-3322184 or erin@foeme.org

Background:
The Dead Sea is a masterpiece of nature in all aspects; geological, ecological, historical. It is the lowest place on earth and the saltiest deep-water body on the planet. Its scenery is like nowhere else on earth - a place of relaxation for body and soul. A truly magical place drawing millions of tourists of all kinds; religious, hikers, scientists, nature lovers, cure seekers (due to its well-known therapeutic values), and much more.

Tragically, it is disappearing before our eyes. The Dead Sea has receded by 25 meters in just 30 years and has lost a third of its surface area. This ecological catastrophe is man-made:
• The Lower Jordan River, the main body of water that used to feed the Dead Sea, has had 95 per cent of its waters diverted by Israel, Syria and Jordan;
• The Israeli and Jordanian mineral industries have turned the southern area of the Dead Sea into evaporation ponds that significantly contribute to the shrinking of the northern basin of the Dead Sea.

The races initiator and a swimmer in the event, Oded Rahav states “If it’s possible to do the impossible, like swimming across the Dead Sea, than it’s possible to save the Dead Sea. We are not just interested in raising awareness, but creating real action to benefit the Dead Sea.”

Dov Litvinoff, Head of the Tamar Regional Council with a track record of 13 years raising awareness of the Dead Sea’s dire situation states “As the Tamar Regional Council celebrates its 60th anniversary and been a witness to this natural wonder for many years, we are at a loss to help – the Dead Sea has sacrificed itself on behalf of the State and the whole region is experiencing the damage due to the States neglect. This is a national problem and should be treated as such. What was destined to have been one of the highlights of Israel’s Tourism industry is gradually becoming a wasteland due to the difficulty of developing long term plans. We hope this activity and similar one’s in the future helps garner both Israeli and international support in favor of finding a solution soon, so that the Dead Sea doesn’t become a footnote in the geography books of generations to come.”

Gidon Bromberg, Israeli Director of EcoPeace Middle East is quoted as saying “We see the challenge of the swim, which is a life endangering act, not unlike the challenge of saving the Dead Sea. The region is on the verge of paying an irrevocable price if the long term wrongdoing is not undone. In the present technological era where Israel has advanced desalination abilities, the water level of the Dead Sea could be stabilized by pumping more water from the Sea of Galilee, south to the Lower Jordan River and into the Dead Sea. This cooperation of swimmers from all over the world is the basis for hoping that similar collaborations can be made in the future to restore the Dead Sea. Time is of essence and not in our favor. The destruction of the Dead Sea has been done with the backing of the Israeli government for the past 50 years and we are calling upon it to change its ways.”

EcoPeace Middle East is a Jordanian, Palestinian, Israeli environmental peacebuilding organization that focuses on the region's water and environment issues. EcoPeace brings together communities as well as decision makers from the three countries to seek to cooperatively advance solutions to the shared water problems of our region.