PASAY CITY (MindaNews / 22 June) – Endurance swimmer Ingemar “Pinoy Aquaman” Macarine is ready to set a record by crossing the 21-mile (33.8km) English Channel this August.
Ingemar “Pinoy Aquaman” Macarine (center) at the launch of the First Filipino English Channel Swim at the Marriott Hotel Resorts World. Photo courtesy of Macarine’s Facebook page.
The triathlete-lawyer said what concerns him most is the water temperature in the channel.
“Most of the endurance swimmers who tried the area gave up on the water temperature which is 15 degrees Celsius,” Macarine said last Monday afternoon during the launch of the First Filipino English Channel Swim at Marriot Hotel Resorts World.
To prepare for this swim, Macarine has set to leave the country next week to start his acclimatization in London.
“My swimming coach told me to swim two hours everyday in the cold water,” he told MindaNews.
The English Channel separates southern England from northern France, and joins the southern part of the North Sea on its east to the rest of the Atlantic Ocean on its west.
Macarine said he will swim from England to France, then ride the boat back to England.
“Swims usually start at or near Shakespeare’s Cliff or Samphire Hoe (in between Folkestone and Dover), and aim to finish at or near Cap Gris Nez (between Boulogne and Calais),” according to the Channel Swimming Association’s (CSA) website.
“If mountain climbers have Mt. Everest, English Channel is considered the Mt. Everest for long-distance swimmers,” the endurance swimmer said.
“This is considered the ‘Mount Everest’ of open water swims and will be a test of physical and mental strength, courage, sheer human will and heart,” said Georgian Honorary Consul Thelmo Cunanan Jr., founder of the First Filipino International Movement that is organizing the First Filipino English Channel Swim.
Macarine admits some misgivings because “it’s too cold” there but the 40-year-old Surigaonon says he is determined to do it.
Several open water swimming fanatics have been doubting Macarine’s attempt at swimming the English Channel because he comes from a tropical country.
Macarine is no stranger to cold waters, though, having successfully swam the Chesapeake Bay in Maryland last year, from Alcatraz Island Penitentiary to mainland San Francisco in California in 2014, and in Lake Lane in Florida in 2014.
Since November last year, the former varsity swimmer of Silliman University in Dumaguete City said he has increased his training exercises – from two hours of swimming every Monday, Wednesday and Friday, to the same number of hours all weekdays. Sundays are for cross training, either biking or running, he said.
Aside from the cold waters, Macarine said another matter that concerns him is the distance because he hadn’t tried swimming more than 30 kilometers in his nine successful swimming marathons.
“Yes, it’s a long swim but I believe I could do it like everybody else. The biggest challenge that I will be facing is the icy-cold water with longer hours in the water,” he said.
Macarine said he plans to finished the swim in 16 hours.
“This swim, I will only be wearing regular swimming trunks, swimming cap and goggles,” he said, noting that he will not wear any thermal suit.
According to the CSA, the shortest distance to cross the English Channel is 21 miles, but some swimmers may have to swim longer if they miss Cap Gris Nez because of the current.
The association said the channel became popular among swimmers when Matthew Webb, a 27-year-old steamship captain, successfully crossed it in 1875.
Since Webb, about 1,100 solo swimmers have conquered the distance, the CSA said.
Macarine said he will try his crossing between August 15 and 20, citing strict rules set by the Channel Swimming and Pilots Association.
The association requires swimmers to register and assigns swimmers to a boat captain who is trained to monitor channel swimmers.
On any given day, 10 to 12 swimmers may be in the water, CSA said, but they are going at different speeds and taking different routes between England and France.
Macarine’s swim is part of his lifetime advocacy for clean seas, environmental tourism, and climate change awareness.
Just like in his previous open water marathons, Macarine followed the Marathon Swimming Federation Rules and performed solo swimming without floating aid or help from any human or sea vessel.
British Ambassador to the Philippines Asif Ahmad, who graced the launch event, said when he got notice of the plan, he liked it because of the global advocacy on Climate Change.
“Because of the conservation efforts we have had, like what Ingemar Macarine is pushing in the country, one of our rivers which was considered the dirtiest river in Europe … we can now see fish swimming,” he said.
Ahmad said he was horrified when he saw children swimming in the Pasig River way back in 2009. “The challenge for you, like what we did in the UK, is to clean up the river,” he added.
The ambassador said Macarine, if successful, would be the third person from Southeast Asia to have swum the English Channel, after a Singaporean and a Malaysian.
Ahmad said he will be cheering along with every Filipino who would watch the Pinoy Aquaman every time he would make a stroke.
Former Senator Heherson Alvarez, who served then as the chairperson of the Climate Change Commission and former environment secretary, also graced the event.
He said Macarine’s swim is not about the crossing but the environment.
“Water is rising because of human activities that’s harming the environment. The glaciers are melting in the North Pole and I hope Macarine will be the ambassador of goodwill,” he said.