Sumatra to PD-all in a days swim

There are some people who give themselves challenges that to the average man or woman seem nigh impossible – Seremban’s Hairul Azman is one of those people.

This week, Kuala Pilah born Hairul will join a 30 strong bunch of ocean swimmers who are attempting to swim from Sumatra, Indonesia to Port Dickson, Malaysia.

I’ll say that again just in case you think you misread it-they are swimming from Sumatra to Malaysia, a distance of approximately 40-50 kilometres!

It’s not a race and there are no first places awarded but everyone who takes part, both organisers and participants, are considered winners.

Forty-two year old Hairul is in one of the relay teams facing this challenge and with a laugh describes himself as a ‘slow swimmer with lots of passion.’

“I remember first swimming as a 10 year old in the river near my kampung, he said, ‘and its been my hobby ever since.”

Hairul is ex-army and has been training hard, swimming up to 1500 metres a day in the local pool at Sendayan, in readiness for this 24 hour plus crossing of Melaka Straits.

The first person to cross the Straits by swimming was Japanese professor, Soichi Nakajima who had to abort his attempt to cross the Straits in 1972 after getting stuck in a whirlpool off Tanjung Tuan, Port Dickson.

He returned the next year and completed his swim in about 26 hours.

Whirlpools, fatigue and swarms of jellyfish are not the only obstacles for these intrepid swimmers-dodging the 200 to 300 ships that pass through the Straits daily, especially in the dark, is one of the biggest issues-these big ships do not see you and will definitely not stop for you.

Seven brave souls will attempt the non-stop 24 hour solo swim with Hairul and the other relay swimmers sending about 45 minutes in the water before exchanging places with team-mates. The solo swimmers must not touch the boat at any time once they have begun so their “feeding and resting” all takes place in the water. Not easy.

Oh, and did I mention that well-known triathlete Mohd Sabki Arifin will be doing the crossing for the second time as a relay team member, after swimming the Straits in 2007-Sabki has only one arm and generally beats many two-armed swimmers at triathlon events.

If that’s not enough to inspire you, child-hood friends Jeff Wong and Faiq Adnan, who learnt to swim together at school and then competed together in open water events in Malaysia and Thailand, will swim as a relay team - both boys are blind and will be guided during their swim sessions by long-time mentor, Dato' Ooi Win Juat.

These three swimmers were only able to participate after crowd funding efforts by organisers who sent out their heartfelt thanks to donors Kamilah Kasim, Prof Tunku Sara Tunku Ahmad, Abdul Hamid, Dr Rubi Ahmad, Philip Tn Koh, Chris Chan Yin Wei, Lee Tze Ian, Trevor Pardasian, Carlos Baladia, Stephen Jestico, Dr Tan Niap Ming, Dr Ezlika Ghazali, BK Seah and Ridzwan A. Rahim.

Some surplus funds will be used towards setting up a library at Sekolah Dasar Tanjung Medang, Pulau Rupat, Indonesia primary school during our stay on the island on July 20, 2018.

Seremban’s Hairul is both excited and nervous at the prospect of achieving this goal but says ocean swimming “is exciting when you compare it to the relentessly boring lap after lap training.”

“It’s just a great adventure,” a relaxed Hairul says, “and a personal challenge, especially after eating so much durian last week,” laughing again.

To follow this amazing journey you can read their FB page Melaka Straits Swim over the next few days with the mother vessel for the swim, the 19.8m MV Dickson Dragon trimaran, leaving for Sumatra soon, weather depending.


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