Pinoy triathlete aims to make history by swimming across the English Channel

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DOVER, United Kingdom, August 12 — Endurance swimmer Ingemar “Pinoy Aquaman” Macarine will attempt to set a record by becoming the first Filipino to cross the English Channel on Sunday.

Macarine, an environmental lawyer an election officer at COMELEC, will attempt to swim across the 21-mile (33.8 kilometers) distance separating United Kingdom and France. His swim will kick-off at the Samphire Hoe Beach here.

The Surigao-born triathlete already met with his team to prepare for Sunday’s crossing, including boat pilot Eric Hartley of Pathfinder Charter and his observer, Keith Oiller of Channel Swimming Association (CSA).

Hartley and Oiller’s organizations have assisted hundreds of people trying to cross the channel, dubbed as the “Mount Everest” for open water swimmers from all around the world.

PREPARATION

Macarine and his Filipino crew flew here last month for a series of acclimatization training.

Macarine trained for at least two hours a day in Folkestone, where his team is based, though most of the time he did his acclimatization sessions here.

Last weekend, he spent six hours swimming the cold waters here to be able to obtain certification for the Channel Swimming Association.

Aside from swimming for two hours, Macarine has been walking for at least an hour daily here.

Macarine gets 11-12 hour sleep for recovery.

He has been eating heavily mostly dairies products to nourish his body and gain more fat.

CHALLENGES

Sunday’s swim is sanctioned by the Channel Swimming Association (CSA), which means the Filipino swimmer must abide by its rules.

For instance, Macarine must be wearing only a regular swimming trunks, a pair of swimming goggles, and one swimming cap.

“Wetsuits and other floating devices are absolutely not allowed. The rules also dictate that I should not touch the boat nor can be touched by another person during the entire course of the swim,” Macarine said. “I will be swimming continuously or nonstop for approximately 13 to 15 hours, except hydration and feeding stops for 15 seconds every 30 minutes, with water temperature of 17 degree Celsius.”

Aside from the cold waters, the Pinoy Aquaman must be preparted to survive the 33-kilometer swim distance which could stretch to 40 kilometers because of unpredictable currents.

“Hypothermia would be my number one challenge as I am used to the tropical waters of the Philippines,” he said, noting that the channel’s current water temperature stands at 17 degree Celsius.

Macarine has not done a 30-kilometer swim in his 33 open-water swimming feats in the country and in the United States.

His longest personal record since going into open water swimming sport was on April 19, when he crossed the 24-kilometer distance between Dumaguete City and Siquijor Island in 11 hours and 21 minutes.

DANGERS

Adventurous swimmers from different parts of the world have come here to challenge themselves in the waters. This year alone, at least 400 swimmers will attempt the swim either solo or relay.

In the past few days, however, several swimmers from other countries have cancelled the English Channel swim because of unfavorable weather.

English Channel has also claimed few lives of aspiring swimmers.

Last Monday, a triathlete lost his life by attempting to cross the English Channel.

BBC reports said Douglas Waymark, 44, from Cheltenham, United Kingdom fell ill half-way across the Channel, 12 miles from Dover, Kent, and was airlifted to hospital where he died last Monday evening.

CONFIDENT

Macarine was supposed to swim last year in the English Channel, but returned to the country empty-handed as he wasn’t allowed to swim in the channel due to bad weather.

However, Macarine expressed confidence he can make the crossing this time. He described his physical condition as “in top shape.”

While Mount Everest has already been summitted by seven Filipinos, the iconic English Channel has yet to be crossed by a Filipino.

Hartley said the success of Sunday’s swim will largely depend on the weather conditions.

“Honestly the weather here is unpredictable so we will wait for the right timing,” said Hartley adding he will do everything he can for the success of the swim of Macarine.

Macarine’s swim is sponsored by South Seas Vision CATV System, supported by Philippine Sports Commission through Chairman William Ramirez and Commissioner Ramon Fernandez, as well as the Commission on Elections through Chairman Andres Bautista.