By Maria Spiliopoulou
ATHENS, Sept. 24 (Xinhua) -- A symbolic swimming crossover of the Corinth Canal, one of Greece's most famous landmarks, highlighted on Sunday the efforts of local authorities to promote Corinth region as a sports tourism destination.
More than 300 swimmers over 13 years old seized the unique opportunity to cross the 6-km-long canal separating the Peloponnese peninsula from the mainland, about an hour drive southwest of Athens.
Greek athletes Dimitris Manios and Kelly Araouzou won in the men's and women's division. The event, which was held for a second year under the auspices of the Regional Government of Peloponnese and the Administration of the Corinth Canal among others, aimed to underline the region's potential to welcome more sports tourists.
On Oct. 22 the Hellenic Federation of Canoe-Kayak-SUP is organizing a series of races in the Corinth Canal, with the participation of foreign athletes.
Ideal climate conditions year-round and state of art sports facilities in the wider area provide a great environment for professional and amateur athletes to participate in events and training, according to local authorities.
Built in the late 19th century the canal which links the Saronic with the Corinthian Gulf serves annually about 10,000 ships, mainly for tourism traffic.
It was constructed to shorten the sea route between the Aegean Sea and the Ionian Sea and facilitate navigation and trade, but due to its narrowness (about 24 meters in width), and as modern ships kept growing in size, it did not attract high levels of traffic.
However, the Corinth Canal, which was inaugurated in 1893, became from the late 20th century a popular tourist destination.
Today two road, two railway and two submersible bridges at both ends connect the mainland with the Peloponnese over the canal.