Saturday, June 21, 2008

The Nile Crocodile is not extinct yet ; a tribute that is not too late

Last month Egypt farewelled one of its athletes who raised its name 98abouheif high in the field of sport creating the living legend of Nile Crocodile : Captain Abdel Latif Abu Haif , our 20th century swimmer.

I had to two opportunities to meet this man but unfortunately I missed them : One in the summer vacation from three years ago , my friend invited me to spend two weeks with her in the North Coast in their villa , their neighbour next door was late Abu Haif , already my friend told me that despite his old age , Abu Haif used to swim in the sea every day . The second opportunity was a sad one in my Grandfather’s memorial service from two years ago. I was in the women’s section and he was in the men’s section. Still I had the chance to see him personally in Zamalak with his wife

Captain Abdel Latif Abu Haif was the Century swimmer in Egypt , he won the world championship for 5 successive years and he was the 1_919_942_52 third Egyptian to cross the English Channel “aka La Maunche in Egypt” after Ishaq “Isaac” Bek Abdel Kader and Hassan Abdel Rahim to start the saga of the Nile Crocodile in 1950s and 1960s for 3 times . And this is just few of his victories recommend to visit this webpage .

Captain Abu Haif was Egypt’s Champion in Long distance Swimming and Marathon Swimming ,already this sport was very very popular and successful in Egypt in its old golden days.

Abdel Latif Khamis Abu Haif was born in Alexandria on the 30th of January 1929 “oh yes on my birthday”. He wanted to become a swimmer after watching Johny Weismuller in a Tarzan film, already almost all Alexandrians are excellent swimmers whether women or men. He started to swim in the age of 10 . His role model was Ishaq 4_919_942_52Halmi who was the first Egyptian and Arabic to cross the English Channel. In 1951 he became the third Egyptian to cross the Channel from an Egyptian team made of 13 swimmers. King Farouk rewarded him by sending him to continue his education at Eaton then Royal Military academy Sandhurst where he graduated there in 1956. Still he was not engaged in the Military but in Swimming , he was the star in our legendary Egyptian swimming national team better known as “The Nile Crocodiles “ , they were and him especially important icon in the 1960s

He died in Cairo on the 21 April 2008 in Cairo after along time illness. He suffered from HVC that caused him Liver failure beside Skin Cancer.

He was married from his relative Manar Abu Haif ,the Egyptian Opera singer and he has one son Nasser Abu Haif.

He was honoured twice in 1998 and 2001 by the international 99 Swimming hall of fame in Florida , in 2001 after a poll made online ,he won the great remarkable title of “The Marathon Swimmer of the 20th century” of course this is beside his honours around the world and in Egypt.

This was a great man ,seriously , a role model of how a sports man should be.

His smile was so beautiful and he kept it even till his last days despite all what he suffered from

I am sorry but this picture is said to be his last in the media as you can see he was still keeping it


Egyptians were the first African and Orientals from the East to cross the English channel as I hinted before starting with Ishaq Abdel Kader in 1928 who swam from France to UK Solo for 23 hours and 40 minutes , then Hassan Abdel Rahim in 1950 who swam from France to UK also solo for 10 hours and 15 minutes “can you believe it that from 23 hours to 15 hours !!??”

In 1984 the first Egyptian to cross the Channel swimming in the two ways was Mr. Osama Ahmed Momtaz and he took 21 hours and 37 minutes “Can You imagine how tiring it is ??!!”

Egyptians are on the top Arab swimmers in the English Channel , more than 20 times they succeeded in crossing it from UK to France , and more than

Even our special need swimmers had succeeded in crossing it several times.

Unfortunately in the last 20 years no body cares about Long distance swimming.

But there is still a hope.

I do not know if it is fate or not but Egypt was qualified to represent Africa in the Long Distance swimming category in Beijing 2008 Olympics games . This happened directly after the death of Abu El-Haif and strangely the champion who was qualified was the same young man Abu El-Haif expected him to revive hopefully the legend of the Nile Crocodile

Mohammed Zanatay , whom I wish all the luck in Beijing , I know it is tough but we can make it again


Today one month would have passed on the death of Egypt’s great icons in the 20th century .

May Allah bless your soul Nile Croc.



  1. Thank you very much for writing this nice tribute to Abu Haif. In the open water swimming community, there was immediate sorrow upon his passing. But there was also numerous beautiful memories of this athlete and man shared by thousands of people in countries around the world. Additionally, with open water swimming now an Olympic sport, Mohammed El Zanaty has a grand opportunity to carry on the tradition of Abu Haif. Those of us in the open water swimming community give honor to the life of Abu Haif and wish Mohammed El Zanaty the best of luck.
    Steven Munatones at and

  2. Dear Mr.Munatones, do not thank me , it is my duty as an Egyptian to remember Abu Haif , he was a really inspiring character
    thanks again Steven , it is great to see other people in the world remember him

  3. tuve como huesped en mi casa en coronda argentina a abdel y nos dejo su trofeo del 2º premio de la maraton santa fe coronda del año 1969 fue una esperiencia muy agradable haberlo conocido ,el trofeo lo guarda el hijo mayor de mi marido despues de la muerte de su padre . eran amigos y el quiso dejar este trofeo para luego algun dia venir a buscarlo y no volvio mas.czerweny raquel

  4. mucho gracis for sharing these wonderful memory , the race of Argentina was a historical one for sure , it showed how noble he was
    thanks again , I am so happy to see that many people around the world remember him

  5. Can I Say ..... WOOOOOOOOW
    I was so sad to search everywhere about Captin abu haif .. I didnt find anything ..
    I used google with words like " abu haif ... best swimmer in 20th Century ... best swimmer "
    I didnt find any thing as much as his importance ... finally i found u zeinopia
    Thanks and god bless you
    finnally .. can u add any links helps me more to know about This Legend ??

  6. Don't Mention it Mohamed , it is the least thing I can dedicate it to this great noble man
    well about the links ,you can check his son's website and wikipedia ,the Arabic wikipedia , also try Arabic search in Google I use it a lot in this post

  7. what a bunch of crap!

  8. you're an insult yourself...

  9. kiss my ass...


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