Who can swim across Sarangani Bay in less than 3 hours?

MAASIM, Sarangani (MindaNews/21 May)– The open ocean swimming race from Maasim to Glan remains to be the much-awaited sports event in the eight-year history of Sarangani Bay Festival.

A total of 50 swimmers will again invade Sarangani Bay this May 24 to kickoff Sarangani Bay Festival, the biggest beach party in Mindanao. Will a team log the shortest time ever in the history of swim-across-the-bay?

2006 swim organizer Giuseppe Chew described the race as “the Sarangani Bay ultimate challenge.”

It has a distance of about 15 kilometers.

Governor Migs Dominguez said the swim challenge is “one way (also) of helping our swimmers to be able to compete not only in swimming pools but also in international swimming competition offshore.”

“This is not only about winning but also about finishing and conquering,” he added.

On May 18, 2006, only three teams out of six entries finished the first-ever swim across Sarangani Bay witnessed by thousands of spectators.

The Dadiangas Torpedoes of General Santos City (4:05:18 hours) won by just two minutes ahead of MJ Powerpines of Maasim (4:07:12 hours). The Maasim Swimming Team clocked in 4:57:26 for 3rd place.

“This is the longest open ocean marathon swimming competition in the country and probably in Asia,” said Chew.

“I really enjoyed it,” said swimming athlete Ergel Arcinas of the 2006 race. “It was hard on our part since the water was salty and the bay has a strong current. We are used to swimming in the pool.”

The following year, swim teams came from Davao City, Koronadal City, General Santos City, Polomolok, Maasim and the Philippine Navy.

The Gensan swimmers repeated their win and broke their own record that year (2007).

The swimmers finished in record fashion with the Dadiangas Torpedoes A successfully defending their title with a record time of 2:50:15.23 hours and received P40,000 for the top prize.

MJ Fighters B finished second (2:55:01.29 hours) and went home with P25,000 while the Tinoto Dolphins came in third to claim P10,000.

An all-female team from General Santos City clocked in 3:11:17.05 hours.

On May 17, 2008, 10 teams again raced from Maasim to Glan crossing Sarangani Bay in SarBay Fest’s most grueling race and between one of the bay’s narrowest points.

The Swim-across-the-Bay is a brainchild of former Capitol agriculture chief and marine biologist Giuseppe Chew who now lives abroad.

“I could still vividly remember well when I made my suggestion to the floor when we had our first meeting to conduct the Sarangani Bay Festival, everyone was laughing at me,” Chew said in an email.

“The suggestion was almost killed if not for Board Member Art Lawa who supported and believed in my grandiose plan,” he said.

Chew said the Swim-across-the-Bay “turned out the best activity then and highly successful.”

He said it is “the longest open ocean swimming competition in the Philippines and probably in Asia.”

“Who would ever believe historic Sarangani Bay (mentioned in Antonio Pigafetta’s epic journal of Magellan’s expedition), the deepest bay in the Philippines can be conquered with human prowess?”

“Even the local Coast Guard commander then did not believe it can be done when I called for a meeting to prepare for the medical emergency plan,” Chew added.

And the rest is history.

Davao tankers ruled the 2008 swim.

The Sta. Cruz Seafoods Inc. team of Davao City outclassed seven others in 3:17:05 hours. However, it did not break the record of Dadiangas Torpedoes (2:50:15.23 hours) who did not field a team in 2008. The official time: Sta. Cruz team – 3:17:05; South Cotabato – 3:20:14, Sultan Team – 3:21:24.

On May 29, 2009, 12 teams joined the swim. The standings: 1st – Sultan Swimming Team (4:10:41); 2nd – Sea Lions (4:11:47) and 3rd – Tinoto Dophins (4:12:28).

In 2010, 1st – Dadiangas Torpedoes (3:16:47); 2nd – Sultan Team (3:22:18); and 3rd – MJ Power Team (3:22:46).

Eventually, Koronadal City’s Sea Lions ruled the seas in 2011. Sea Lions with top swimmer Bonifacio Pagunsan crossed the finish line at 3:41:42. The Philippine Army’s Tinoto Pirates got the second prize (3:53:28) while Dadiangas Torpedoes bagged the third place (4:05:19).

In 2012, the Dadiangas Torpedoes ruled the race for the fifth time. They clocked in 2:57:40 hours, beating nine other teams to the finish line. However, it was seven minutes short of breaking their 2007 (2:50:15.23) record.

Second place was the Sea Lions with 3:02:52 hours, only 1 minute and 40 seconds ahead of Davao’s team GenSan View Resort (3:03:12 hours).

The 2012 race was one of the fastest, next only to the 2007 record.

Veteran Torpedoes member Lawin Dacera’s tip to swimmers? “Our game plan was pretty easy. It’s basically, go out there and swim hard, swim fast and don’t really care if you got last or first. Just have fun.” (Serafin N. Ramos Jr./Sarangani Information Office)