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The Hellespont
Named after Helle, who fell from the Golden Ram (source of the famous Golden Fleece) over the strait, the Hellespont (aka The Dardanelles) has a history embracing gods, heroes and romantics, reaching back through the legends of Ancient Greece to the dawn of civilisation.

History

Under a mile wide at its narrowest point, the Hellespont is a narrow channel separating Asia from Europe.

Historically the crossroads from Asia to Europe, it has been a natural barrier for invading armies. Both King Xeres I of Persia in 480BC and Alexander the Great a century and a half later crossed the strait on a bridge of boats and throughout history the Hellespont was the first line of defence for Constantinople.

Hero & Leander Love Story

It is also a scene of the legendary love story as depicted in Greek mythology of Hero and Leander. Hero, a priestess of Aphrodite lived on the European side of the Hellespont in a high tower by the sea. Her lover Leander lived on the opposite Asian side and in order to spend the night with Hero, Leander swam the Hellespont guided by a lighted lantern fix to the top of the tower, returning at dawn to the Asian shore. On one fateful occasion Hero’s lamp was extinguished by the wind and in the darkness Leander lost his way and was drowned. On hearing of his death and overcome with grief, Hero threw herself from the tower in a distraught bid to be reunited with her beloved Leander.

Hero & Leander Poem

BY CHRISTOPHER MARLOWE

The First Sestiad

(excerpt)

On Hellespont, guilty of true love’s blood,
In view and opposite two cities stood,
Sea-borderers, disjoin’d by Neptune’s might;
The one Abydos, the other Sestos hight.
At Sestos Hero dwelt; Hero the fair,
Whom young Apollo courted for her hair,
And offer’d as a dower his burning throne,
Where she could sit for men to gaze upon.
The outside of her garments were of lawn,
The lining purple silk, with gilt stars drawn;
Her wide sleeves green, and border’d with a grove,
Where Venus in her naked glory strove
To please the careless and disdainful eyes
Of proud Adonis, that before her lies;
Her kirtle blue, whereon was many a stain,
Made with the blood of wretched lovers slain.
Upon her head she ware a myrtle wreath,
From whence her veil reach’d to the ground beneath;
Her veil was artificial flowers and leaves,
Whose workmanship both man and beast deceives;
Many would praise the sweet smell as she past,
When ’twas the odour which her breath forth cast;
And there for honey bees have sought in vain,
And beat from thence, have lighted there again.
About her neck hung chains of pebble-stone,
Which lighten’d by her neck, like diamonds shone.
She ware no gloves; for neither sun nor wind
Would burn or parch her hands, but, to her mind,
Or warm or cool them, for they took delight
To play upon those hands, they were so white.
Buskins of shells, all silver’d, used she,
And branch’d with blushing coral to the knee;
Where sparrows perch’d, of hollow pearl and gold,
Such as the world would wonder to behold:
Those with sweet water oft her handmaid fills,
Which as she went, would chirrup through the bills.
Some say, for her the fairest Cupid pin’d,
And looking in her face, was strooken blind.
But this is true; so like was one the other,
As he imagin’d Hero was his mother;
And oftentimes into her bosom flew,
About her naked neck his bare arms threw,
And laid his childish head upon her breast,
And with still panting rock’d there took his rest.
So lovely-fair was Hero, Venus’ nun,
As Nature wept, thinking she was undone,
Because she took more from her than she left,
And of such wondrous beauty her bereft:
Therefore, in sign her treasure suffer’d wrack,
Since Hero’s time hath half the world been black.

The Hellespont was also the scene of the initial naval assault of the Gallipoli Campaign in World War I. A number of Turkish, British & French wrecks litter the sea floor.

The predominant current is from North to South as water flows from the Black Sea to the Aegean Sea. However, there are a few smaller counter currents on both sides of the straits. For the swim crossing we take advantage of the North-South current as we swim from Eceabat to Çanakkale

The straight line distance from the start in Eceabat to the finish in Çanakkale is approximately 3 miles. With the prevailing current, you can estimate that you will be swimming the equivalent of roughly 2 miles.

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  • Swim Trek
  • January 28th, 2014
  • Don’t Miss Out
  • Swim Hellespont draws swimmers from across the globed to take part in the iconic crossing from Europe to Asia. This challenging swim is a must for the seasoned open water swimmer. Places for  2014 are booking up fast, don’t miss out and Enter Now!


  • January 27th, 2014
  • Swim Hellespont on Film
  • Take a look at the worlds most iconic swim on film. Click here to view the official video.


  • December 4th, 2013
  • Swim Hellespont 2014
  • Follow in the swim stroke of Lord Byron, the Kennedy family & Bo Derek, and take on the Hellespont Swim. Registration is now open for this iconic crossing from Europe to Asia. Book your space now - http://ow.ly/rqZ9k