Pinoy Aquaman to leave for UK to prepare for English Channel swim

MANILA (MindaNews / 26 July) – Endurance swimmer Ingemar “Pinoy Aquaman” Macarine is ready to set a record by crossing the 21-mile (33.8km) English Channel next month.

Macarine, an environmental lawyer, is set to fly to the United Kingdom this weekend to start his acclimatization in the cold waters of the English Channel.

Ingemar “Pinoy Aquaman” Macarine during his 18.5-kilometer swim crossing Cebu Strait 16 July 2017. MindaNews file photo by ROEL N. CATOTO

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,” said Macarine.

In his first attempt last year, he returned to the country empty handed as he wasn’t allowed to swim in the channel due to bad weather.

To prepare for this swim, Macarine will start his acclimatization in Folkstone in the UK next week. “My swimming coach told me to swim two hours everyday in the cold water,” he said.

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 41-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 in 2015, from Alcatraz Island Penitentiary to mainland San Francisco in California in 2014, and in Lake Lane in Florida in 2014. Last May the Pinoy Aquaman conquered the 8.4-kilometer icy cold waters of Hudson River in New York.

The Pinoy Aquaman had a total of 32 open water swims in and outside the country. This year, the Pinoy Aquaman had six marathon swims in the country, including the grueling 24-kilometer swim from Dumaguete to Siquijor, and the 18-kilometer swim from Argao, Cebu to Loon, Bohol.

“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, who is also election officer in Tubigon, Bohol as employee of the Commission on Elections, said he plans to finish 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. (Roel N. Catoto / MindaNews)