In September, in the midst of major political campaigning in Iraqi Kurdistan for an independence referendum, Waterkeepers Iraq was quietly conducting a swimming expedition to promote clean water. With seven water advocates and a small staff from a local television station on board, three swimmers completed the first ever attempt to swim the entire distance of Dukan Lake.
The expedition started at Darbandy Ranya in the extreme northeast of the Dukan Reservoir in the northern province of Sulaimaniyah, Kurdistan, Iraq. On the evening of September 19, the team traveled by boat across the waters of the vast lake formed by the Dukan hydroelectric dam. It took three hours to trace the path they would begin swimming the next day—a swim that would ultimately take more than 35 hours to complete.
The television staff accompanying the expedition was from KurdSat TV. They covered the story as part of a 45-minute documentary about the efforts of Iraq Upper Tigris Waterkeeper Nabil Musa to promote swimmable, drinkable, fishable waters in Iraqi Kurdistan. No one, not even Nabil who has been doing long distance swims on the lake since 2012, had ever attempted the entire distance of 39 kilometers—24.2 miles—north to south.