IRAQ: SADDAM HUSSEIN SWIMS ACROSS TIGRIS RIVER
Restrictions: No Access Iraq
Date: 17/09/1997 04:00 AM
Baghdad, Iraq, 16 September 19971. Saddam walks to river before swim2. Saddam with swimming party3. Saddam begins swim4. Audience watching swim5. Swim continues6. Various of Saddam swimming7. Various Saddam talking on river bank after swim
In a staged display of his physical fitness, Iraqi President Saddam Hussein swam across the Tigris River three times on Tuesday.
The 60-year-old leader opened a swimming competition by completing three 100-metre crossings of the river.
Eight Presidential bodyguards swam alongside Saddam during the swim.
A similar event was staged by the Iraqis in 1995 but Western media claimed that on that occasion it was a Saddam double who completed the swim.
Saddam refuted the claims saying that he was easily fit enough to complete the course then and now.
The crossings marked the opening of an Iraqi swimming contest.
The competition commemorates Saddam's 1959 river crossing, after his participation in a failed attempt to assassinate the then prime minister, Abdul Karim Kassim.
The event was inaugurated by Iraq's National Olympic Committee in 1995.
The committee is headed by Saddam's son, Uday.