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Making A Splash, Making Waves For Others In Hong Kong

On November 4th, five teams participated in the inaugural Make Waves for Hong Kong, a 45 km circumnavigation charity swim around Hong Kong Island. The multi-team relay event with 30 swimmers total and Shu Pu at the helm raised over HK$3 million for Splash Foundation, a charity dedicated to addressing chronic swim illiteracy in the city by providing free learn-to-swim programs to underprivileged individuals, including low-income families, children with special educational needs, and domestic workers.

The swimmers included Olympic athletes Camille Cheng, Toto Wong, and Jasmine Alkhaldi and newbie ocean swimmers new to ocean swimming.

The first swimmers from each team started at 3:15 am in the dark from Sandy Bay near Cyberport.  Legs were 30 minutes each as the teams swam clockwise around the island. The team reached Victoria Harbour as the sun came up, and then progressed to Chai Wan, Shek O, around Cape D’Aguilar and on to Stanley, Ap Lei Chau.

The first team to reach the finish line was former Hong Kong Olympic swimmer Annemarie Munk’s Purple Team in 10 hours 14 mins 55 seconds despite challenging conditions. Each team followed the rules of the Marathon Swimming Federation.

Camille Cheng, a Hong Kong Olympic swimmer said, “It’s been an incredible experience to do this iconic Hong Kong swim again, this time with multiple relay teams. Swimming brings people together and today, we were able to make it possible for thousands more people to experience the joy of swimming as well. Hopefully one day, it will be the norm that everyone in Hong Kong learns to swim, and until then, we will keep pushing to make swimming accessible.”

Jasmine Alkhaldi, a Filipino Olympic swimmer recalled, “Swimming in the dark was definitely something I was anxious about, but I found it calming and almost meditative – especially seeing the lights set up for us by supporters and Splash beneficiaries at 3 am in the morning. The camaraderie of this whole event has been great and it’s been a pleasure to support Splash’s amazing programme to teach people to swim.”

Rachael Guan, a breast cancer survivor also participated. Swimming played an essential role in her rehabilitation journey, providing both physical and mental support. She said afterwards, “What a sense of achievement we all have. I have come such a long way from accepting the challenge, committing to training, to completing the swim. For me, swimming is about potential, and this has been an empowering experience for me. Never thought I’d achieve something like this.”

It remains an unfortunate fact, however, that despite Hong Kong having the longest coastline of any city in the world and an abundance of swimming pools, nearly half of its population remains unable to swim. This leaves a significant portion of the community susceptible to water-related risks, while also depriving them of the physical, mental, and social wellbeing benefits that
come with being in the water.

The donations raised from Make Waves for Hong Kong will benefit Splash Foundation’s free learn-to-swim program. This initiative aims to eliminate financial and cultural barriers, providing the community with greater opportunities to acquire this essential life skill and enhance the city’s swim literacy. Since its establishment in 2015, Splash Foundation has successfully taught over 6,000 individuals to swim, achieving a 90% success rate after only 20 hours of instruction.

Roy Pang, Chairperson of Splash Foundation, who also swam in the relay, said, “I would like to express my deepest appreciation to our incredible staff, volunteers, swim community, corporate sponsors and donors, whose tireless efforts and generosity ensured the success of this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for our 30 swimmers to swim 45 km around the beautiful coastline of Hong Kong Island.

With over HK$3 million raised from over 1,000 donors, Make Waves for Hong Kong represented the largest swim and fundraising campaign Splash Foundation has undertaken. We look to make this an annual event that allows Splash to continue its mission to teach key water safety and swimming skills to thousands more in our underprivileged communities.”

In addition to more than 1,000 individual donations, the Make Waves for Hong Kong relay was generously sponsored by Kiri Capital, Ng Teng Fong Charitable Foundation, Shanghai Commercial Bank, and Simpson Marine.

For more information on, visit here.

© 2023 Daily News of Open Water Swimming

to educate, enthuse, and entertain all those who venture beyond the shoreline

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