MADRID – Ion Lazarenco went from being a bus driver to becoming the eighth person in the world to achieve the “Oceans Seven” challenge, a swimming marathon that consists of crossing seven open water channels braving sharks and freezing temperatures, all in the name of peace.
But for the 42-year-old who is Moldova’s Nobel Peace Prize nominee, it wasn’t about getting an award at the end of it but doing something “meaningful for humanity.”
“You know it, first of all, started when I was young I was asking my grandfather when he told we are all mortals, and I said how can we just come to this planet to use, consume and destroy?” the Moldovan, who has joint Irish nationality having lived on the island for 23 years, told EFE.
“So I was young when I thought I had to do something meaningful with your life, have a purpose,” Lazarenco said.
He embarked on the 199-meter-long swimming challenge to spread his message of peace in the world.
“I chose swimming and promote peace through sport because we all know in the Greek times, extremely old days, when there was conflicts and there was olympic games, they would stop all the conflicts to play the games. Which means sport is the true image of peace, isn’t it?” the swimmer said.
When asked how he found the stamina to push on through the hard swims, he said that the most important thing was to never give up, no matter what the conditions were and no matter how hard.
The activist reiterated that for him, winning the prize was not the end goal.
“I didn’t do what I did to get the Nobel Peace Prize, I did it because for me it’s painful to watch what’s happening around me and around us,” Lazarenco continued.
Even though he has taken a break after completing the epic challenge he has other projects in mind, because, he says if he stops swimming people will stop listening to his message.
However, he has hit a stumbling block with the latest challenge he was keen to undertake, swimming from the Snake Island to Roumania. The Ukrainian government has not allowed him to take it on.
He was also blocked from swimming between Turkey and Greece after Turkish authorities stopped him.
Ireland has named him the best swimmer in the country and he was made “Man of the Year” by the World Open Water Swimming Association in 2018.
“My job doesn’t stop here. It’s not about the Nobel Peace Prize it’s about my duty on this planet,” the activist told EFE.
“Fighting over islands, over frontiers, over waters, this is mine... No. Nothing is ours. We should love and care for one another. That’s it,” he added.