An Iranian swimmer achieved a remarkable feat by breaking her fourth world record while challenging taboos at the same time.
This time, Elhamsadat Asghari achieved the fastest time to swim 5 km pulling a canoe/kayak in 1 hr 58 min 40 sec.
Women in Iran are required to follow a certain dress code, which mandates that they cover their hair and body, regardless of their religion or nationality. This meant Elhamsadat ended up wearing a swimsuit that covered her entirely and added 6 kg (13.2 lb) to her weight, making her record-breaking feat all the more impressive.
Additionally, female athletes are expected to practise separately from men in women-only pools or during designated times.
Notably, Elham has shattered multiple records previously held by men, including the fastest 10 km swim (one arm) in open water, completed in an astonishing 4 hr 58 min, breaking the previous record held by Teodor Tsvetkov of Bulgaria. She has also set a new standard for the farthest distance swimming while wearing handcuffs, having broken the record not once, but twice. That record is now held by Shehab Allam.
حققت إلهام سادات أصغري، سباحة إيرانية، إنجازاً مميزاً لأسرع زمن للسباحة لمسافة 5 كيلومترات وسحب قارب كاياك في ساعة و58 دقيقة و40 ثانية ⭐♬ original sound - Guinness World Records Arabic
Elham began swimming at the age of five and started teaching others at 17. Her dream was to swim in open waters, so she searched for training programmes online to achieve her goal. Her father, who worked as a wrestler, supported her efforts and encouraged her to set records.
“Iranian women are also limited to competing only in women's dedicated competitions,” explained Elham. “They are not permitted to participate in competitions abroad where they would be seen by men while wearing swimsuits.”
"This recent record was the most challenging for me, as it required a combination of strength, speed, and endurance, and I am more suited to endurance swimming. By the third kilometre, my legs were completely exhausted and there was significant pressure on my back," added Elham.
In June 2013, Elham swam for 20 km (12.4 mi) in the Caspian Sea, despite the obstacles that Iranian female athletes face. To adhere to these restrictions, she developed a special swimsuit that covers the entire body, adding an extra 6 kg (13.2 lb) of weight in the water.
"Most of the time, my father accompanies me, but for this particular record, he could not join me due to his advanced age, so I undertook it on my own," she said.
In 2008, Elham's 12 km (7.45 mi) swim using the full-body swimming outfit was recognized by the Iranian Ministry of Sports. However, in 2010, she faced a setback when she attempted to swim around Kish Island and was disrupted by police boats that caused her injuries. Elham took a break from swimming, but after undergoing therapy, she resumed practise, swimming 5 km (9.3 mi) every night and running 12 km (7.45 mi) daily.
On 11 June 2013, she swam 20 km (12.42 mi) back and forth for eight hours from 5:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. in the Caspian Sea near Nowshahr, on a private women-only beach to avoid potential run-ins with police boats. However, the representative from Iran's Ministry of Sport and Youth tried to reduce her distance from 20 km to 15 km (12.42 mi to 9.32 mi), and then later to 18 km (11.18 mi), claiming that her swimsuit was not suitable for free water swimming. Her supporters, however, noted that the swimsuit was the same one she had used in her 2008 record.
After Elham posted a video of herself online, with the help of her manager, she gained the support of thousands of fans on Facebook, and tributes poured in as more people became aware of her case. In the video, she promised that women would not have to wear such cumbersome swimsuits in the future.
"My tireless efforts to fight for women's rights and overcome challenges have never been easy," says Elham. "Throughout my life, I have dedicated myself to this cause and refused to be deterred by any obstacle in my way. My unwavering commitment and determination have been further strengthened by my record-breaking achievements, recognized by the prestigious Guinness World Records. These records are a testament to the strength and resilience of women, and I am proud to use them as a platform to inspire others to join me in this important fight.
"I take pride in what I do, and I find Guinness World Records the supportive platform to share my message with the world. My journey has been challenging, but breaking these records has further strengthened my conviction to fight for women's rights. I remain committed to this cause, and my record-breaking feats are a testament to my unwavering dedication and strength."
Despite facing countless obstacles and enduring unimaginable hardship, she stands tall and is unwavering in her commitment to the cause of women's rights. Her courage and resilience inspired generations to come, and her legacy continues to empower women to challenge the odds and fight for a more just and equitable world.
Want more? Follow us across our social media channels to stay up-to-date with all things Guinness World Records! You can find us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, TikTok, LinkedIn, and Snapchat Discover– including our new Guinness World Records Extreme channel.
Don’t forget, we’re also on YouTube!
Still not had enough? Follow the link here to buy our latest book, filled to the brim with stories about our amazing record breakers.