First time in the world - Stepping into the unknown - 320km swim

Swimming from Russia to Turkey 320km

Nominated for the "Performance of the Year" Award.


If you like to vote click here: https://www.openwaterswimming.com/contestants/rusya-turkiye-uluslararasi-karadeniz-2021/



When you read this headline, you would think that’s crazy! Who would do those things and why!?! 320 km swimming from Russia to Turkey day and night in unexplored waters – the Black Sea, with its wavy, stormy, unpredictable sea conditions. 6 days without proper sleep and rest from Sochi to Giresun.

How can this work out and happen?! It worked with an amazing team. Each of the team members played a big role to make this happen. There was a clear purpose, a vision a shared passion! This result is proof of joined dedication, purpose passion…

Let me share our story with you day by day, moment by moment, starting with our purpose and our dream team:


So why did we swim for six days and nights? For saying Thank You to the healthcare workers worldwide!

• Our clear purpose was to show our gratitude to health care workers. They are supporting us in this pandemic time, day and night like running a marathon. In these times, we have understood the importance of health care workers more and more. They have a tough working environment, deal every minute with emotional, demanding situations show endurance to save our lives. We were dedicated to swimming day and night despite stormy nights, despite tiredness to show our gratitude with the vision to swim this route for the first time in the world and leave our footprint.


• The motto of this marathon was defined as “Strokes in the Black Sea for the World Healthcare workers and Peace”.



With a powerful dream team and one shared vision, you can do everything in the world!

12 swimmers – 7 swimmers from Turkey – 3 swimmers from Russia and 2 swimmers from Germany. But of course, without the coast guard team, the health support team the organizational support team, we as swimmers couldn’t do this! Most importantly, without our trainer – organizer Mustafa Özer, we couldn’t even imagine this kind of a big event. He organized all the sponsors, all the cooperation partners the security team.

Besides the dedication, passion and, purpose, the common thing of each of us was that everybody brought his unique mindset and motivational spirit. We all wanted to face this challenge, brought our soul and body power in, and just trusted the process.


Let me introduce the team members to you and their inspiring life mottos:

Swimmer Relay Team:

Our Russian swimmers came from the Moscow area. They didn’t know each other before and met at this event. The get-together on the first day was important for building a team spirit.


From Russia



1) Pavel Kullinich: Our dolphin man. Pavel swam with the dolphins during the event. He lives in Kolomna, near Moscow, working as a supply chain management expert. A very optimistic, deep soul. Always grateful, he brought philosophical questions into the room and his passionate about nature and swimming.

His life motto:

• Always act with love and have a passion for what you do.

• To know my capabilities better, I go out of my comfort zone.

• The support of family and friends is always important in a challenging journey.


2) Anton Vetrov: A very focused, proud and fun personality when you look more behind the scenes also very emotional. His inspirational life reflection: «To be - rather than to seem to be» - this is my rule of life. With this rule, I go through the difficulties of both life and business. It's hard to be honest with myself, but remaining committed to my principles, not giving up and not changing them, I went through a lot in sports and in life, remaining who I am.

Someone does not like it, someone says that I am too principled, but these words and opinions are not important to me. After all, the main thing is that I can always take responsibility for myself and am always confident in what I am doing.

If someone tries to get out of the comfort zone by inventing various competitions or challenges for themselves, then I just look at such people smiling and thing "to get out of the comfort zone, you need to be inside it, and I still don't know what is in and out of my comfort area". Just be true. Be Real - Be yourself.


3) Zhana Zelenskaja: Zhana always smiling, a very calm and dedicated swimmer, beautiful mum, wife and a motivational swim coach. Her powerful motto:

Always stay calm, you can accomplish more than you think. Be always open and stay for yourself.


From Turkey

4) Kürsat Tüzmen: He is a former state minister and more important a great inspirational leader, businessman – role model for all of us. A great speaker, an inspiring role model who always practices what he preaches. Showing us how to follow the passion, being a successful leader and a motivated athlete with endurance no matter what age. The proof of continuity and endurance.



5) Burcak Tumay Pekel: Always energetic dedicated powerful in the water. Our power woman. She loves challenges and crazy events. A former successful water baller and now she is a great swimming teacher especially specialized for the baby swim and fitness coach.

Her inspiring motto is:

PRESSURE MAKES DIAMONDS. THEREFORE, THE FORMATION OF THE DIAMOND İS PATİENTLY EXPECTED FOR MANY YEARS🙏


6) Ahmet Nakkas – The son of a former Olympic swimmer, world champion, and record holder in Turkey. He is a great inspiration for all of us. Our fastest swimmer, with his great pace and technique and optimistic strong perspective. He is also a successful businessman, owner of a fashion brand in Turkey. He is showing us that age does not matter, and strength is in you always. He is the proof of dedication, power, and performance.

His motivational motto is:

To live knowing yourself in every breath - her nefeste kendini bilerek yaşamak.


7) Tarkan Tuzmen – He is the open water leader in Turkey, former singer and actor, businessman, and for sure a great father and family man. With his positivity, energy, and voice he impressed all of us.

His inspiring motto:

Dream - activate and finish.


8) Nurettin Unal- He is our hero; he is rescuing the lives of so many people from real disasters. He is showing us the real resilience and dedication to save other people’s lives. No matter which challenge, fire or earthquake, he is there where he is needed and do his incredible job as a fireman and natural disaster manager

His philosophical Motto:

Everything starts with one stroke.. Success is forever.. “Herşey bir kulaçla başlar, “başarı daima başarı”

I couldn’t decide my birth and my death, but I can decide what I do till my death. That’s why I live life to the fullest, with all the beauties and enjoy it!


9)Faruk Ilguy: Faruk is a great trainer, motivator, and father.

His motto is highlighting the team power:

Don’t underestimate one stroke. If the one stroke finds a great team then you can cross seas.

“Bir kulaca küçük diye aldanma…O kulaç güzel bir takımla bütünleşirse denizler aşılır…


10) Prof. Kubilay Cimen: Our professor from Marmara University, motivator and role model. No matter the weather and circumstances, always dedicated to going with the challenge and checking on us. He was always energetic and motivated and was a great role model for us.

His meaningful life motto:

Always dream and go for my dreams. Again and again. This gives me the power to live. I know. When I stop following my dreams, then life will leave me.

Daima hayal kurar ve gerçekleştirmek için gayret gösteririm. Ve yeniden yeniden. Bu beni hayata bağlar. Bilirim ki! hayal kurmayı ve hayallerimin peşinden koşmayı bıraktığım gün hayat beni bırakır.


From Germany

11) Hamza Bakircioglu: Our world record holder in ice swimming, swam several times the ice mile and our number one in the German Bodenseeüberquerung, our ice-man and full of inspiration.

Always following a positive mindset and saying

“ Just enjoy no matter which challenging situation you are in; just enjoy the journey”.