AS part of their preparation to swim across the Straits of Malacca, participants of the Melaka Straits Swim 2018 recently congregated for a 12-hour overnight camp-in that included eight hours of marathon swimming in a pool with the lights off.
The “Swim In The Dark” event took place from 6pm to 6am the next day at two venues simultaneously – the University of Malaya pool in Kuala Lumpur and the Relau Sports Complex pool in Penang.
Twenty-five participants swam a total of 156km at the event.
It was the first in a series of training programmes to prepare the participants for the Melaka Straits Swim 2018, a 50km to 70km swim crossing of the Straits of Malacca that will take place from May 4 to 7.
It is organised by passionate open-water swimmers in collaboration with the Royal Malaysian Air Force (RMAF) swim team with an aim to promote the sport of open-water swimming in Malaysia.
A straits crossing takes anywhere between 12 hours and more than 24 hours to complete, so swimmers will need to cover a portion of their swim at night.
According to project director Abdul Razak Abdul Aziz, Melaka Straits Swim 2018 will feature 10 solo swimmers – which is unprecedented in the history of the crossing.
“The challenge is to manage a team of 10 solo swimmers and 30 relay swimmers swimming at different places to cross the Straits amid busy shipping traffic,” said Abdul Razak, adding that the last time a Straits of Malacca crossing of this magnitude was organised was in 2007.
The evening began with a mental strength training by Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) practitioner Dr Malek Aziz who taught the participants how to use tapping on meridian points all over the body to overcome their open water-related anxieties.
The event also featured a talk by siblings Zahra Ma’soumah Abdul Halim and Salman Ali Shariati Abdul Halim, the last persons on record to have swum the Straits of Malacca.
The duo swam the distance in 2010 at age 18 and 12, respectively.
At 10pm, the participants got into their swim attires and started their easy laps.
By midnight, the solo swimmers carried on while the relay swimmers were organised into groups that took turns swimming for half an hour each, before the next group took over. This they did continuously until daybreak.
All participants kept track of their mileage for that night. The highest was recorded by 37-year-old Jessie Wong from Sarawak, who swam 21.2km non-stop.
Jessie, a former national swimmer, said she wanted to make her trip from Kuching for the event worthwhile.
“It was my aim to swim the distance of a half marathon road run tonight,” said Jessie, who is also an avid marathon runner.
Another participant, Ernesto Carlos Pujazon Patron from Peru, clocked 10km at the event. The bonding he felt with the swimmers was what pushed him to give his best.
“As a swimmer, meeting adversity with a steady hand and putting in hard work next to each other will free up our minds and yield positive results,” said the 51-year-old lecturer in design at Taylor’s University, Selangor.
The next group training for Melaka Straits Swim 2018 will be a night open-water swim in Port Dickson slated for tomorrow.
For many of the participants, this will be their first taste of night open-water swimming.
The swim will be followed by a 6.5km night open-water swim from Pulau Kapas to Marang, Terengganu, on April 22.