Bad weather delays channel feat


  • Nation
  • Wednesday, 23 Jul 2003

BY TAN KAH PENG

LONDON: The unsettled weather has forced Abdul Malik Mydin to delay, by a day or two, his attempt to be the first Malaysian to swim the English Channel today.  

Although there was still no official announcement on this at press time, The Star learnt from sources close to the organisers that Malik is not able to begin his epic swim from Dover to Calais as scheduled. 

It looks like Malik will not be able to begin his swim until Friday or Saturday, as the forecast is for continued unsettled weather, high winds and strong tide. 

He was earlier scheduled to take the plunge at about 5am (1pm Malaysian time today) and was expected to take about 15 to 18 hours to reach Cap-Gris-Nez, the nearest point to England, a distance of 19 nautical miles.  

The final decision on the timing of the swim was to be made at 6.30pm yesterday (2.30am today in Malaysia) in Dover by Mike and Vance Oram, the father-and-son team navigating the route, based on their expectations that the weather would be unsettled then.  

Vance, 29, who is overall in charge of the swim, told The Star that Malik would start his swim at Shakespeare Beach in an effort that would take about 66,000 strokes to reach the French shore. 

About 100 Malaysians led by Youth and Sports Minister Datuk Hishammuddin Hussein would be there to show their support.  

The minister would also be at Calais to welcome Malik. 

Vance, who claims an 80% success rate in guiding 106 swimmers so far, said Malik was physically prepared for the swim, given his three years of training with stints in Dover. 

“Malik’s biggest challenge is the cold,” said Alison Streeter, who holds the unofficial title of “Queen of the English Channel” with her 41 crossings, adding that the water temperature would be around 14°C to 16°C. 

As Malik would not be swimming in a wet suit as stipulated by the rules, swimming in such temperatures over more than 12 hours is tough, made more daunting if the wind conditions are above 10 knots, according to Streeter. 

“The threat of hypothermia is real,” said Dr Ahmad Farouk Musa, Malik’s personal physician. 

To keep him going, Dr Ahmad would be feeding Malik with a high carbohydrate drink.  

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