Atina Boyadzi is a Macedonian marathon swimmer who swam the English Channel in 1969, thus becoming the first woman in Yugoslavia who accomplished this feat. She was dubbed the “Ohrid Dolphin”, after her birth city, where she was born on March 13, 1944.
Boyadzi won several state and international swimming meets in long tracks. Her success served as the inspiration for the movie “Stand Up Straight, Delphina,” (1977, Aleksandar Gjurchinov), starring Neda Arnerikj. Her relatives, friends, and childhood school mates remember her as temperamental and curiosity driven little girl, roaming the streets of the old part of Ohrid, where she also lived, just a few steps from the lake. She started her swimming practice at the age of eleven, at the same time breaking all the Macedonian swimming records in the category dolphin, short tracks. At the age of eighteen, she won the first Ohrid Swimming marathon. In 1962, she became the youngest world champion in freshwater swimming. She was awarded the Badge of Courage by the Lebanese president for swimming the 42-kilometer long marathon in Beirut in 1962, which was considered one of the most challenging. The swim of the English Channel (50 kilometers for 13 hours and 20 minutes) on September 9, 1969, marks the peak of her career. Later on, she worked as a swimming coach in Belgrade and in Los Angeles (USA). She spent her retirement days in Skopje, where she also died on December 28, 2010. Valuable memorabilia from Atina Boyadzi’s private and professional life were donated to the Museum of Macedonia by her family.
Atina Boyadzi represents the emblematic character and the inspiration for women involved in sports in Macedonia. In numerous interviews given to the media, she oftentimes pointed out she lifted her own spirits while swimming across La Manche saying,
Atina, you can and have to persevere!
Birth house of Atina Boyadzi
[caption id="attachment_597" align="alignnone" width="300"] Ohrid in the past, source: https://mkd-news.com/kako-izgledal-ohrid-porano-foto/[/caption] Today the birth house of Atina Boyadzi is located in the atrium of the church of “St. Sophia”, in Maalo Saraishte in Ohrid, and is private property. It can be accessed on foot/by bike from the center of Ohrid or by car via Boulevard “Dimitar Vlahov”. It is accessible for people with а physical disability.