For the 1st time Evan, Soon Jiun, Zi Xiang, Min Fey, Soon Wen, Kar Keong, James and I followed Mei Juan to swimathon which was held at Terengganu. We swam from Kapas Island back to Marang. The whole distance is said to be 6.5km and time limit is 4 hours.
1st Day – Marang
Depart from USM Sports Unit at 9.30am in USM van. The journey was from Kedah-Kelantan-Terengganu. It was a road with many corners, turns, uphill and downhill. Although it made us dizzy but I kind of enjoy the beautiful scenery and the rural areas that we never see before. We arrived at Seri Malaysia Hotel in Marang at 5pm. We went out for dinner at 7.30pm at the seaside. We were able to see Kapas Island and all of us were shocked by the strong wave we saw! Mentally I was preparing for the worst.
2nd Day – Going to Kapas Island
Woke up at 7am and had breakfast in the hotel. We went to Marang Jetty at 9am and the registration just started. We have a pack of goodies, an orange swimming cap with our participations number on it, tags for our bags, and sign for an agreement. We went to Kapas Island on a boat and the boat ride was about 15mins. We see Marang mainland getting smaller and smaller. I wonder will I be able to make it because it’s so far away and the wave was very high and current is strong!
The sea water of Kapas Island is very clear. The preservation of the beaches and islands in Terengganu is obviously better than Penang one. After registration, putting luggage in our room, we went for a practice in the sea. We were able to see dying corals and fishes. We were more on exploring than practicing.
After having a very bad lunch, we went to snorkelling. Briefing was at 5.30pm. We were told that there are orange buoyant in every 1km as a straight line leading to the finish line and a big red ballon at the finish line. We were warned by the strong current, to our right at start and left after 2 hours, it’s not benefiting the swimmers at all.
Dinner at 7pm and all of us sleep at 10pm. We must take a good rest.
3rd Day – Swimathon
Can’t sleep, I can’t sleep… My heart was beating very fast due to concern. Waking up at 5am, I went for a breakfast and back to packing my stuff. We went for body marking and put our bags at the jetty. My heart is pounding very fast, excitement, concern, happy, sad, all together! But more to afraid. We can’t see any orange buoyant, organizer said that it has been floated away. So now we’re on our own to see (or guess) the finishing line. The gun shot marked the start of the race but SW and I waited till all the participants went down to the water and we started after that.
For the 1st 1km I think SW and I still sticking together and we see the mountain as a lead to the finishing line. But then his voice is gone, I guess now I’m all alone. Not thinking much about this, I keep continue swimming and the current keep drifting me away. At about 3km, I saw Pulau Kapas on the back of my right, that means I’m not swimming straight line, I was drifted to the left and swimming a big big round.
Swimming alone is scary. Imagination of the combination of all scary water monster movies I watched before like “Jaws, Piranhas, Deep Blue Sea” and the documentary shows about giant squids, sharks etc… I was thinking what’s going to attack me from the bottom or back. Anyway, I more concentrate of the finishing line and the mountain as a mark.
At about 3km you’ll be able to see the white tents where the finishing line is. By that time the mountain can’t be used as a mark anymore because it’s not accurate anymore. A lot of unknown things bites me all along the way. When SW was with me I still can tell him a lot of things biting me but without him by my side, I just can cursed these things in my heart and keep scratching while swimming freestyle. At 4km you’ll be able to listen to the MC on the shore talking. This convince me I’m near and keep swimming.
After about 2 hours of swimming, a man in front of me looked at behind and shouted to me “are you ok?” then we chat for a few lines shouting to each other. He said “we’re 30mins to the shore!” I was soooooo happy to hear that and then I keep swimming half sprinting hopefully I can catch up with him and swim to the finishing line. But he still seems far away swimming breast stroke and after about and hour I still haven’t reach any shores, the shores seems near but I never reach no matter how hard I swim. The friction of my swimming suit strap on my shoulder and armpits was getting pain and pain… I was thinking of giving up but I never quit… Never… But one of the reason is because no kayaks or help around me, so I can’t even quit as well, hehe…
I was kind of out of energy. Swimming freestyle in the end is hard because whenever I swam freestyle I got drifted away. I was swimming zip zap and it was wasting energy. Suddenly the sun is gone, covered by dark clouds. I must swim fast before weather turn bad and the race is stopped. Then I can’t be a finisher!!! I changed to breast stroke for half hour and when I really can see the shore is near, I use freestyle and my very last energy sprint to the end. For the 1st time the wave pushed me to the right location, the shore. I was so happy to be able reaching the shore, and ran to the finishing line. I was given a medal, 100 plus drink, mineral water, towel, t-shirts etc… and Mei Juan is the 1st one who came to greet me because she heard my name being mentioned by the MC. She took bath and her hair had dried. That means she arrived a long time ago LOL.
I saw SW too and we went to take bath. I’m very glad to see him like a missing friend a long time ago. After my bath, I also saw the man who told me “30mins swim”. Another missing motivator found. It rains heavily when I’m out of the chalet where we took bath. Ambulance came and I guess a swimmer was in trouble. During the prize giving session MJ was very busy going up to the stage receiving prizes and reporters surrounding her asking question and taking pictures. She was the winner of the category and fastest women swimmer, placing 7th in overall. I was placing 11th in my category. Such a waste because if I’m in top 10 I can get a prize, hehe..
We had our lunch and head back to USM at 2pm in heavy rain. This is a very good experience for me. It tells me how important team work, physically and mentally strength is. Without mentally strength, I think I won’t be able to finish the race swimming alone. Training is very important. Because of the water current, I think I’ve swam at least 8km. Damn… I never swam that much before. We were all very tired but happy. Everyone of us have different experience and SW is the most special. He had banana in the middle of the sea! LOL!
Congratulations to all USM swimmers as we all finish the race and MJ has the highest award. Thanks to USM who supported us so much in this race as well.