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Embassy Dakar Staff, family members swim to island.

Senegal's 12 months of sunshine and 10 months of moderate temperatures make the sport of swimming popular with residents and employees of the U.S. Embassy in Dakar. Annually, the big swimming event is the "Traversee," or crossing, to Goree Island, three miles off Dakar's coast and Senegal's most visited site due to its role in the slave trade.

The 26-year-old swim event, held by Senegal's national swimming federation, draws hundreds of swimmers for its professional and amateur open-water swim courses. In the often strong current, swimmers sometimes tire and give up, seeking a ride on the accompanying supply boats.


Several swimmers from the embassy started meeting on Friday afternoons to practice for the event at a nearby beach, from which they swam to a small island a halfilometer away. Starting with just one round-trip swim, the group built endurance and resistance to the salty Atlantic water and were soon able to swim a few kilometers. During the week, they did laps in pools at their homes or at the embassy.

In the Sept. 29 Traversee, five embassy employees, plus three children of employees, participated in the event with other Americans, including a Fulbright scholar, schoolteacher and visiting Iowa professor.

Consular Assistant Sariah Toze, a marathoner but not a competitive swimmer, called it "a once-in-a-lifetime experience. I appreciated the boats and guidance. While there were times that I wondered if I was going in the right direction, I never once felt that I was left out to sea."

All five embassy swimmers reached the island. For Toze and two other swimmers, it was their final go, as they soon will depart post. However, the other embassy swimmers plan to swim next year, and recruit new athletes.

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Title Annotation:In the News
Publication:State Magazine
Article Type:Brief article
Geographic Code:6SENE
Date:Jan 1, 2014
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