SURIGAO CITY (MindaNews/14 February) – This time, the English Channel.
Triathlete-lawyer Ingemar “Pinoy Aquaman” Macarine is now preparing to set a new record in August by being the first Filipino to cross the 21-mile (33.8 km) English Channel.
“If mountain climbers have Mt. Everest, English Channel is considered ‘Mt. Everest’ for long-distance swimmers,” the endurance swimmer said.
Macarine admits some misgivings because “it’s too cold” there but the 39-year old Surigaonon says he will cross it in mid-August this year.
“Swims usually start at or near Shakespeare’s Cliff or Samphire Hoe (between Folkestone and Dover), and aim to finish at or near Cap Gris Nez (between Boulogne and Calais). Nowadays swims are from England to France,” he said, adding that after the swim they will ride back to England.
The former varsity swimmer of Siliman University in Dumaguete City told MindaNews that he is now preparing his training exercises that include two hours of swimming every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Sundays are for cross training, either biking or running, he said.
He stressed that major changes in his training program will be acclimatization. Macarine said part of his training will be in Baguio City.
“I stopped taking a bath with hot water,” he said.
“Imagine you’ll swim in 15 degrees Celsius. That’s quite cold,” the triathlete said.
“I’m quite scared to death and this is really my biggest challenge,” he said.
He said the San Miguel Corporation is supporting his historic swim.
“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.
The English Channel separates southern England and from northern France and joins the southern part of the North Sea to the Atlantic Ocean.
According to Channel Swimming Association, a United Kingdom based organization, the English Channel has an approximate distance of 21 miles.
According to Channel Swimming Association (CWA), this channel became popular when Matthew Webb, a 27-year-old steamship captain successfully crossed the Channel in 1875.
Since Webb, about 1,100 solo swimmers have conquered the frigid temperatures, winds, darkness and jellyfish to swim the distance between southern England and northern France, 21-miles as the crow flies, but longer as the swimmer moves with the current in an S-curve.
Macarine said he’ll try his crossing sometime August 15 to 20, citing strict rules set up 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, CWA said, but they’re going different speeds and taking different routes between England and France.
The window for swimming the channel is narrow — between June and August — but the water will still be about 59 degrees, he said.
Macarine’s swim is part of his lifetime advocacy for clean seas, environmental tourism, and climate change awareness.
Last June 9, Macarine set the record as the only Filipino who conquered the Chesapeake Bay in Maryland, USA, a distance of 8.1 kilometers.
On January 31, Macarine did his 17th open water swim crossing Pamilacan Island to Baclayon town in Bohol last January 31.
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.
Last January 1, Macarine ranked 3rd in the annual “Man of the Year” Award by World Open Water Swimming Association.
Macarine also received the “Hero of the Year Award” from World Wide Fund for Nature late last year. (Roel N. Catoto / MindaNews)