Mohammed Zeytoun. Photo by Antonie Robertson / The National]]
Abdulwahab Zeytoun is the younger brother of Mohammed Zeytoun. He wrote a biography of Mohammed Zeytoun called World Swimmer Mohammed Zeytoun, a professional marathon swimmer from Syria who represented the United Arab Republic during his short career that was tragically cut short at the age of 23.
Mohammed Zeytoun, known by his nicknames as the Nile Crocodile and Syrian Torpedo, he won his first marathon swim in a 40 km Nile River race at the United Arab Republic Cup at the age of 18 in 1959. He next won a 42 km marathon swim between Saida and Beirut in Lebanon where he met Lebanese president Fuad Chehab and the two-time prime minister Hussein Al Oweini. He won the 1960, 1961 and 1964 Maratona del Golfo Capri-Napoli in Italy after finishing third in his first attempt.
Before the 1960 Maratona del Golfo Capri-Napoli , he spent days on an escort boat studying the course between Capri and Napoli. He upset Argentinian swimmer Alfredo Camarero and 65 swimmers from 42 countries after a 3-hour delay in the start due to poor weather. He won in 10 hours 38 minutes. He won the 1961 race in 8 hours 45 minutes under better conditions.
Due to the dissolution of the United Arab Republic on 28 September 1961, Zeytoun refused to represent Syria at the 1962 Maratona del Golfo Capri-Napoli World Cup race and faced political prosecution. Zeytoun was given a security escort until tensions eased after the Syrian Ba’ath party seized power in the 1963 coup. He returned to competition and won the 1963 50 km International Suez Canal marathon and the 1964 Maratona del Golfo Capri-Napoli World Cup for the third - and last - time.