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Jonathan Lenchner Swims Across Strait of Gibraltar: Swim for Africa

On Aug. 26, one month short of his 50th birthday, former Great Neck resident and Great Neck South High School alumnus Jonathan Lenchner swam across the Strait of Gibraltar from the southern tip of Spain to northern Morocco. Dr. Lenchner is a research scientist at IBM’s T.J. Watson Research Center in Hawthorne, New York. He completed the 33 km (13.6 mile) swim, in rough conditions, in 4 hours, 44 minutes, together with Philipp Tiedt, a former IBM colleague. Dr. Lenchner is the 18th American to have completed the crossing. He was a member of the Great Neck South Class of 1977, where he swam under Coach Ray Brecht and was also a member of the cross-country running team.

He has had an affinity for distance swimming since age 4, when he swam across Lake Mohegan (1/4 mile), located on the Westchester-Putnam border. Last year he finished 33rd in the U.S. National 25 km (15.5 mile) Open Water Championships in Noblesville, Indiana. The Noblesville swim was done in a lake under calm conditions. Gibraltar, on the other hand, is one of the windiest places in the world, and swimmers must contend with massive swells, strong currents and cold-water temperatures. As part of this year’s “Swim for Africa,” as they have dubbed it, Lenchner, Tiedt and a third former colleague at IBM, Moroccan Youssef Drissi, are raising money for the impoverished children of Africa. For more about the swim and their work to raise money for impoverished African children see

Accompanying Dr. Lenchner to Spain for his swim were his wife Denise, daughters Rachel (16), Maddy (14), and Tova (11), and his father Dr. Nathaniel Lenchner and his companion Joan Zimmerman (residents of Lake Success). Dr. Jonathan Lenchner and his family live in North Salem, NY.