Israeli Olympic Swimmer visits New Zealand to swim in Cook Strait open sea event for Parkinson’s research

April 30, 2018 by Keren Cook
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Alon Mandel is an Israeli Olympic butterfly swimmer who represented Israel at the 2008 Summer Olympics and is the national record holder (2014) in 50 and 100 metre butterfly.

Alon Mandel

Mandel is visiting New Zealand presently to take on the Swim for Cure – Cook Strait event to raise money for research in Parkinson’s disease.

Mandel was born in the United States and raised in Netanya, Israel. He obtained his degree in chemical engineering from the University of Michigan and obtained a master’s degree in Environmental Engineering from Tel Aviv University, and another master’s degree in political scrience from Tel Aviv University.

The Olympian started swimming at the age of 6 and began training at the club “Happel Emek Hefer”. From there, he initially raced in backstroke, and set records for youth in both the 50 and 100 metre backstroke.

During his tenure at the University of Michigan, Mandel has won 4 NCAA All-American accolades, 5 Big-10 titles and 3 NCAA Honourable Mention All-American accolades.

In September 2015, Mandel completed one of the Ocean’s Sevens swims which went from Spain to Morocco, in a little over 4 hours.  The April Cook Strait swim challenge is inspired to help others.

Mandel says: “while that (the 2015 swim) swim was a huge feat, I felt that I should be utilising my skills for the greater good namely to help and inspire others by my action.

“This has led me to register to swim across Cook Strait in New Zealand (swimming between the north and the south island), this time with the desire to represent a certain group (arbitrarily chosen) in the population, namely, those who suffer from the Parkinson disease,” says Mandel.

The open sea event is an unassisted event and tide dependant with water temperatures ranging from 14-18 degrees Celsius.  The average distance to finish is 16 miles and swimmers must follow the English Channel rules where only a swimsuit, cap, goggles and earplugs are allowed.

As one of the toughest and most challenging stretches of water in the world Cook Strait presents the ultimate of tests for all swimmers.

The record time for completing the swim is currently 4 hours, 37 minutes by Casey Glover of New Zealand on April 13, 2008. To date, more than 100 swimmers have completed the event.

Mandel has a GoFundMe page to help offset the cost of training and once the cost of the swim has been subsidised, Mandel plans to donate the remaining monies to Parkinson’s research.

For further information and donations visit:

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