Professor of Political Economy, Robert Wade, tells us about his swam across the Bosphorus for the From Asia to Europe open water swimming race. 

From Robert Wade, 23 July 2018:   

Returned to London last night from a quick two-day visit to Istanbul.  Purpose was to swim in the “From Asia to Europe” “race”, 6.5 kms. Event is organized once a year (this the 30th year) by Turkish Olympic Committee, well organized, shown on Turkish TV.  This is the one morning of year when Bosphorus closed for all boats unconnected with the race.  Some 2,400 swimmers participated, of whom half Turks, half foreigners.

Not being a practiced long-distance swimmer I had my doubts that I could even complete it, especially because the currents in Bosphorus are notoriously strong and tricky,  with the north-to-south current opposed by strong counter-currents close to the shore in several places – including at the finish point.  In the event I not only finished but came 2nd in my age group, to my astonishment and delight. But the last 100 meters were the hardest I’ve ever swum in my life, due to savage counter-current.

I am told that virtually all British swimmers get entry through Swim Trek.  If you apply on your own (via the website which opens early January at midnight Istanbul time), not through Swim Trek, the chances of being accepted are low. So I am told.

Maybe some DID students will be inspired – not least for the symbolism of “From Asia to Europe” in these centrifugal times.


Robert H. Wade is Professor of Global Political Economy at the Department of International Development, London School of Economics.

The views expressed in this post are those of the author and in no way reflect those of the International Development LSE blog or the London School of Economics and Political Science.