Friday, April 05, 2019

Partial swim around Pulau Perhentian Besar and Kecil on 29 Mar 2019

Before the start with Mior (my housemate from forty years back), Amir  (was in the escort boat the whole way) and my wife
Background
The original plan was to try and swim around both Pulau Perhentian Besar and Kecil (25 km) in late March 2019. After all I have swam around Pulau Perhentian Besar (15.4 km) three times  (2016, 2017 and 2018), 25km around Pulau Redang  on 7 May 2018 and Koh Tao (21km) on 4 April 2018.
 
The drawback was I suffered during each of my swims around Pulau Perhentian Besar. The island is a tough swim. It's so hot and always very choppy on the side facing the South China Sea. So I knew doing both islands would be a tough ask, but what the heck.
 
My one swim around Pulau Redang went quite well. We selected a day with a low Tidal Coefficient and there was no wind that day. The water actually glistened almost the whole way. Over more than 100 open water swims I've done, Pulau Redang is the only place that has clearer waters than Perhentian.
 
I booked a very busy Amir from way back and we agreed on 29 March, a day with a low Tidal Coefficient. Amir loves going to Perhentian, he is able to check out new swim routes, do his preparatory work for the next Perhentian Race on 5 October 2019 and return to his kampong nearby.
 
I believe, I am the only person to have swam around Pulau Perhentian Besar three times, the only person to swim around Pulau Redang and only the second person to swim around Koh Tao.
 
 
The day before (28 March 2019) the actual swim
The boat ride from Besut Jetty to Perhentian was the roughest I have encountered so far. I realized I had not selected a good day for the swim and wondered whether it had to be called off.
 
We met with the boat boss on Perhentian Kecil. Its RM 5 per person for the boat ride from Perhentian Besar to Kecil. Perhentian Kecil actually has a mini town with a Police Station, Clinic, Mosque, Restaurants, Shops, Accommodation etc.
 
The boat boss advised the weather the past few days had been unstable. Rain and strong winds at various times. Someone had drowned at Long Beach and boats were actually not able to access  Long Beach.

All of this were very serious and I was quite down heartened.

Instead of our planned start at Barat Jetty, the Boat Boss was very receptive to the idea of starting at Bubbles Resort which is about 5.5 km after PIR. His perception was that this was the most choppy part and there should be less chop early in the morning. The Boat Boss also wanted the crew to work in two shifts due to the distance.

So we agreed to board the boat at Barat Jetty and start the swim from Bubbles Resort to get the most difficult bit over as quickly as possible. This would be roughly a 19km swim, in total.

 
The actual swim (29 Mar 2019)
"Its windy at the Jetty", Amir messaged me early in the morning. The dreaded words.

We boarded the escort boat from Barat Jetty at 7.45 a.m. On the way to Bubbles, I could see that the waves were absolutely crazy. The "4km corner" was especially rough. Two seas seems to be colliding. No way anyone could swim that, I thought.

Anyway we got to Bubbles Resort and started the swim at 8 a.m. Bubbles Resort is quite a cool place. It has its own beach, turtle sanctuary and is popular with divers and snorkelers.
The start at Bubbles Resort, lets do this

The first 2.5 hours
This was more choppy than my previous three swims around Perhentian Besar. Perhaps the most choppy I have encountered was the Hong Kong Clean Half Extreme Marathon Swim (15 km) on 7 Oct 2017. Hong Kong was a day with high Tidal Coefficient (Full Moon) and very windy. I was inexperienced and used a lot of energy to fight the strong surface waves that day and collapsed at the end.

Its actually quite scary swimming close to large rocks and seeing the waves crash against them
So I told myself, don't fight the waves, conserve energy. When one is swimming, the waves appear like mountains. When the waves go crashing against the rocks, its scary. I am always very mindful of the tragedy at the Port Dickson Triathlon in 2018 when two very experienced athletes lost their lives. It was full moon and very windy that day. The very strong surface waves threw me way off course at P.D. So I am very weary of strong surface waves.

I didn't want to be thrown against the rocks at Perhentian today. Amir kept a very close watch on the sea conditions around me. Thanks buddy.

Unfortunately even the tough looking skipper vomited very early on. The skipper and the support crew were replaced sometime during my swim, I wasn't even aware.

Finally after 2.5 hours of swimming through very choppy and dangerous waters, we reached Tanjung Basi, the northern most tip of Perhentian Besar. Normally for the 16km Round Island Race, we would turn left into sheltered waters  and head for the mosque on Perhentian Kecil.
Tanjung Basi after 2.5 hours
2.5 to 5 hours
I had to stay in the open South China Sea and head for the northern most tip of Perhentian Kecil. I could clearly sight the tip, but it was another 2.5 hours of swimming in choppy waters to reach that tip.

I seriously told Amir that I was going to stop at 4 hours. But 4 hours came and I told Amir "another 30 mins". Many "another 30 mins" came and went.

We reached the northern tip of Perhentian Kecil after 5 hours of swimming. Suddenly the water became completely flat and we came across a group of snorkelers. They were happy to see us and we were happy to see them, a happy moment for all of us during the swim.

5 to 7.5 hours
The western side of Perhentian Kecil is actually a nice place to swim
We proceeded to go along the western side of Perhentian Kecil. We have never swam this side before. The water is completely flat and nice. Its a very nice place to swim. Its very possible that Amir would organize some swims here. But I was very tired, disoriented and was just hanging in.

The end
Finally after 7.5 hours, feeling exhausted, disoriented, shoulders aching, I told Amir I was stopping.

We were in front of Alunan Resort (which seems to be a very nice place to stay). I didn't realise that the Perhentian Kecil Village and the Barat Jetty was just around the corner. In my confused state, I thought I had to now swim around Perhentian Besar again and just didn't want to do it.

Amir did his best to convince me to keep on swimming. He was very enthusiastic. "Sleep first, then start again. There is still time". But I was just so tired. Sorry buddy and that was it. Two minutes later, the boat went around the corner and I could see Barat Jetty, our targeted finish.

That's all I could do. 7.5 hours. Sorry
No regrets, I was very tired.

The Garmin stopped for very long periods. Checking against a back up watch on the boat, the actual distance swam might even be 17km. No worries
 
My Personal Tips for Long Distance Open Water Swimming in the tropics
  1. Take a couple of sea sick pills before the swim. The pills work very well for many people I know, but I understand not for everyone.
  2. Have a GPS watch on your wrist and another back up attached to the float or on the boat. Both watches should have their "keys locked".
  3. Bring ice and a container, Perhentian is very hot.
  4. Carbo Pro and bananas work very well, say every thirty minutes. The banana should be peeled by the crew.
  5. Stay calm the whole way.
  6. Taper. This was my mistake. Its no use having sore shoulders even before the swim starts.
  7. Avoid windy days but its not possible to predict this.
 
Some Inside Info for the next Perhentian Race on 5 Oct 2019
 
Full race info is here. A few other things;
  • Everything will be at Perhentian Island Resort (start, finish, briefing, awards, boat loading etc). PIR and Amir have established a very good working relationship which is very good for us swimmers.
  • There will probably be a proper room for the race briefing. We will do the briefing better this year.
  • Meeting the Crew and boat loading will be at the PIR Beach this year (not at Barat Jetty as in 2018). This will reduce a lot of stress if we can pull this off.
  • I suspect the escort boats will not be punctual on race morning even though they only need to travel a short distance from Perhentian Kecil. We have to be patient with the local fishermen. At least swimmers don't have to find their own boats and crew like at some other events.
  • We are trying for the escort boats to come pre loaded with ice, but they couldn't do it for me on 29 March, so I wouldn't count on them doing it for all participants on 5 Oct. The Barat Restaurant will have limited quantities of ice available at 7 a.m.
  • The 2019 race is almost sold out. There are many good international swimmers coming. Amir is doing a good job.
 
Getting to Perhentian and places to stay
 
  • There are many daily flights to KB from KLIA, KLIA2, Subang on MAS, Malindo, Air Asia etc
  • If from Singapore, there is a direct flight on 4 Oct to Kota Baru on Flyscoot arriving KB at 1425 hours. Otherwise go through KL but go early.
  • One can take Grab Car from KB airport to Besut Jetty. Fare is about RM69 and the journey is about 1 hour 15 to 30 mins.
  • At Besut Jetty use the recommended boat company (Save / Safe Park) as they already have your name and there is a discount.
  • Boat crossing is about 30 mins. Take anti sea sick pills if you want, they can be purchased at the Jetty.
  • Malaysians need to pay RM3 Park fee. For other Nationals its RM 30.
  • All activities are at Perhentian Island Resort. So its probably best to stay here. I often read that it has the best beach. It has a resident turtle. Teluk Pauh is a very nice bay.
  • Up to now, I have always stayed at Barat Perhentian. The rooms are basic but the restaurant has a nice vibe.

Thank you
  • Amir. For me, the most important person in Malaysia, for the many OWS events that he organizes. He was excellent as my support person.
  • My wife.
  • Mior Ramdzan, my friend from 40 years back who came all the way from Ipoh to support.
  • All swimmers for your "likes" and encouragement on Swimon's and my Facebook page during the attempt.
To all swimmers, please try to come for the next Perhentian swim event on 5 October 2019. We are lucky to have this. The date is confirmed. Registration for the 16 km (almost full) is here. Registration for the 4km will be available later.
See you hopefully at Telok Pauh on 5 October 2019

My previous Reports : 2016, 2017 and 2018.

In the meantime, see you at Putrajaya on 21 Apr 2019 (5km) which will be MOWS No. 2 and ASUM's Malaysia Open Water Swimming Championships.

Sofian
5 April 2019

Sunday, March 03, 2019

MOWS No. 1 at Bagan Pinang, P.D. Malaysia (2km)

 
It was a glorious sunny day for 500 swimmers at the first Malaysian swim event for 2019. The tide was just right, not much wind , sea was calm, sky was blue, so conditions for swimming were perfect. The downside was, it became hot very quickly and with the late results, many families didn't stay until the very end.
 
But, make no bones about it, this was a good day for 500 open water swimmers and the sport of Malaysian Open Water Swimming.
 
Behind the scenes
My wife and I helped out again (for free) and gave away banana cakes (160 pieces this year) just like last year. Tip was working non stop from 6.30 a.m. (helping with Registration etc), right until the very end (prize giving). I only did the MC duties for the prize giving and picked up the rubbish along the beach, after the event. There were actually eighty people helping with the event. Certainly is not easy to organize a safe swim event.
 
Imagine that everything has to move like clockwork on Race Day, without a full dress rehearsal.  Compounded by this year, it was the highest number of participants ever and Registration was only done on Sunday unlike last year when it started on Saturday. Thus the need for a organising team that has worked many times together. We do have an experienced organizing team actually that has been together for a few years now.
 
A few key regulars were not around but very strong officials from Penang, like KL Tan (Race Director Penang Cross Channel Swim) and Chris Wee (a superb photographer) etc came down to help us.
 
Last year, the problem was the marker buoys disappearing due to the strong tides and the results only being available quite late. We corrected the buoy problem very well but the late results still persisted. In fact, accurate results were only available a few days after the event.
 
We apologise to everyone for our short comings.
 
Rescued by our gallant Firemen
I had inadvertently locked my car keys in the car's boot just before the swim start. I had my swim gear on but the courted banana cakes that my wife made and my change of clothes were locked in the car.
 
I was quite stressed and feeling down. What on earth was I going to do? I approached some Firemen on duty not really hoping for anything. But they listened so attentively to my predicament and quickly came up with plans on how to unlock my car. They had some wires, inspected my car and immediately got to work by sliding the wire through the side window.
 
It didn't quite work and they asked for a piece of string. I managed to give them a piece of string from my swim bag and left them to it as I had my MC duties to do.
 
I did my MC duties in my swim gear. A little later the Firemen came with my car keys and wallet duly retrieved. Imagine my relief. I wanted to give them a reward but they refused. So I just gave them a hug. What gallant Firemen we have. I will remember this for the rest of my life.
 
My heroes for life
 
My swim
We had arrived early and I was able to put in a good comprehensive warm up.
The start was delayed a little bit by swimmers not all wanting to go behind the start line. I started way behind everyone where the start line was supposed to be. On 18 December 2016, I started at the front, went fast and got a heart attack for my troubles.
 
So since that, it's always a slow start for me. For the first 500 meters, the course was full of swimmers. I didn't go for the shortest straight line, instead I just tried to stay away from everyone.
 
After 500m, the course was sparse of swimmers and it was quite easy going from buoy to buoy.  If swimmers felt that the course was tough, well I got news for you, it doesn't get any easier than this in Open Water Swimming.
 
I elected to use simple jammers (FINA recognized) bought from Decathlon. I have got tired putting on and then off my Arena competition swim suit. If you look at the photographs, all the top ten Male swimmers, only wore bottom jammers or basic swim trunks.
 
I finished the 2km quite comfortably. But have since got a bad flu perhaps from being out in the sun too long doing MC and garbage collection duties.
 
 
My Result
39th overall in 39 mins 44 secs. I had just moved up to the 60+ age group and for the first time in my life, I won my age group. So finally I have won something.

Finally winning something
 
Top Ten Swimmers Overall
Unless I am mistaken, these are the photos of the Top Ten swimmers:
1st Kevin Yeap Malaysia's SEA Games Gold Medalist 2017
2nd Jose Luis Larossa
3rd Teoh Kai Xiang


4th Dirk Cox
5th Kelvin Ng


6th Adam Adnan

8th Amos Tan
9th Overall and Champion Female. Nur Iman Nabilah Bt Mohamad Noor Azlan


10th Koo Zi Yi


11th Nur Adli Safwan

12th Araki Tomohiro
13th Overall and Second Female - Jessie Wong

39th Overall - Me
Conclusion - Please Support Malaysian Open Water Swimming
 
 Guys, our beloved sport is young. There will be hiccups now and then. However lets participate and give encouragement to the Organiser.
 
Thank you to the 500 swimmers and supporters, 80 helpers and everyone involved. Thank you, Have a nice day.

Sofian
3 March 2019
 
 
 

Wednesday, December 26, 2018

Thailand Swimathon (Pattaya) 10km on 9 Dec 2018

The best swim event on the planet

Every year (4 Dec 2016, 2 Dec 2017), I sing the praises of this event, that it is the best swim event going. I have ran out of words but the usual high standards have been maintained, if anything it has got better.
The effort put in by the volunteer Organising Committee every year is incredible. Swimmers get way more value than what they paid for. I hope Malaysia will get to their high standards. We are getting there actually. Our Swimon has a very good group helping it.
The main organisers, Golf and Sgt O
The number of participants in 2018 jumped with many new overseas' swimmers from Korea, Japan, Russia, Bali and Malaysia. The usual number from Spain and Singapore was still there.
 

Korea
The best bit is that, the vast majority of swimmers (275) opted for the longest distance (10km). Very few took part in the 6km, 2km and 1km distances. Many first timers came for the 10km and as far as I can tell, all finished. Compare this with the very high recent Did Not Finish rates at  Pulau Perhentian 16km (30%), Oceanman Langkawi 10km (35%) and Oceanman Krabi 10km (48%). The easy and friendly course format (10 x 1km) at Pattaya is the way to go in our part of the world as swimmers are still not ready to cope with the tough choppy courses.
 
The dates for 2019 have been confirmed, 7 and 8 Dec 2019. Registration will be open soon. Follow the Thailand Swimathon Facebook page please for updates.
 
 
Why its so good?
  • The Thai Demeanour. They smile and are gentle in their demeanour. All Thai people (immigration officials, car rental staff, airport security, race staff, race announcers, swimmers etc) smile easily and are nice to visitors. I know, I married one.
  • The exhilarating course format. 500m out, 500m back, hit the beach (repeat 10 times). You are on a "high" throughout the 10km swim with swimmers always around you, no time to be bored, not even for one second.
    
    Stretch your legs every one km
  • The best bit is that your wife, loved ones get to see you every one km. They feel a part of the race. Otherwise, its "I didn't see you honey. Where were you"?
    Simple but exciting course format
  • Every one km, the swimmer is back on the beach. They can bask in the atmosphere, pose for photos, eat and drink or transit as fast as they can. Its up to the respective swimmer.
    Quick feed every one km
  • Very safe course. Our part of the world is not really ready for the tough 5km out and 5km back type of course. Our swimmers are still new to Open Water Swimming. When the course is choppy (like Krabi), then about half won't finish.
  • But when the swim is completely in sheltered waters, food and drinks every 1km, support kayaks and jet skis always in plain sight, rest tubes the whole 500m! Well an easy and safe course is exactly what swimmers want. First time 10km swimmers came in large numbers. You know what? They all finished and with a big smile.
  • The Safety Crew is the Royal Thai Navy.
  • Thousands of free quality photos. Hundreds and then thousands of quality photographs were uploaded from the day before and during the day of the event. The same expert photographer from the Royal Thai Navy volunteers every year. He has a team of photographers and drones in support.
  • Quality T shirt for all participants. I like the feel of the T shirt and it's design.
    Korea proudly wearing the event T shirt and medal
  • Quality Hoodie Sweat shirt for all 10km finishers. This must be the only event that gives this to finishers. I'm sure many hang in during the tough moments just to get this hoodie. I have three now.
    The highly coveted Finisher's Hoodie
  • Awards party. Free beer and simple food. Everyone has a smile, even Malaysians. Malaysia Boleh!!
    Brilliant party
  • Cheap official hotel. Carunda Hotel is quite new and has a nice pool. Slightly out of the way.
  • Preecha Seafood. Very close to the race venue. The best value, the best fresh seafood on the planet.
  • Prompt and accurate results with lap breakdown. The FULL RESULTS
 
 
My Race
275 or so swimmers started the 10km at 6.30 a.m. sharp. It was a rough and tumble (but not dangerous) start, only slightly less hectic than the start at the Hawaii Ironman World Championships. My heart quickly felt stressed and I slowed down immediately. I kept on slowing down, weary that I might get another heart attack like the one on 18 Dec 2016.
275 swimmers for the 10km
I didn't stop for refreshments after Lap No 1 as it was only 20 minutes into the race. I did stop for refreshments after each subsequent lap, doing it as fast as I could. Looking at the detailed lap results now, I noticed that one saves at least 30 seconds for not taking refreshments. I will seriously consider missing another refreshment stop next year.
 
After Lap 2, I was swimming with my expected rivals (Tim Johnson, Shauqie Aziz etc) so I was relieved that I had not been left behind. A Russian female swimmer and probably Alyze Ooi weas also in our pack. In long distance swimming, once you have settled into a pace, the pack will probably stay together right until the end.
 
The Russian lady had a very nice stroke. High finger tip entry and the body build of an accomplished ultra swimmer.

Accurate results with lap breakdown (this is mine)
 It was an exhilarating feeling swimming at probably the fastest speed I have ever done for 10km. The course was full of swimmers. Some were very slow and we either went inside or outside of them. Some 10km and 6km swimmers were faster than us and they did the same to us.
 
Then before you knew it, you were back at the beach. My wife very excitedly counted the number of laps I had done. Kids screamed as their parents emerged. Stepping on the beach every one km is a very good race format for keeping supporters engaged.
 
Sea conditions were the best at Pattaya so far. It rained during the night, which meant the course was completely calm on race morning. Even the race tubes kept a perfectly straight line throughout the day, unlike previous years.
 
At about Lap No. 7 is when the "boys get separated from the men". This is when tiredness sets in. Most started to take longer breaks on the beach. I told myself it was time to go for it and it worked. We seemed to use new muscle groups and actually picked up speed the last few laps.
 
At the finish, I  had beaten all my rivals except Alyze Ooi. A new course PB. I was very happy.
Job done

Congratulations to the many first timers who have now completed their first 10km swim. I'm sure they are very pleased with themselves. Well done and thank you to the Organisers for making it possible.

Don't miss this event, ever!!


Thank you

Monday, October 29, 2018

Inaugural Brunei Marathon Swim on 21 Oct 2018

My first ever trip to Brunei.
It took a swimming event for me to finally make a trip there. No regrets, all of us four swimmers that made the trip from Kuala Lumpur will most probably return.

 
Getting there, hotel, internal transport
SUPER CONVENIENT as Brunei is an international airport. Flight time is roughly 2 hours 20 mins from KL. Return air-fare on Air Asia was RM 260 (even cheaper than flying to many local destinations).

Brunei Airport is only 15 minutes from the official hotel (Mulia Hotel) or the race venue (Berakas Forest Reserve Recreational Park) and they were waiting for you at the airport!!!

Race pack collection and a very professional briefing was held at the official Mulia Hotel. Transport (a mini bus just for us) was also provided if you stayed at Mulia Hotel. Plus I found Mulia Hotel to be an excellent hotel, so it really is a good idea to stay there.
A professional race briefing

Visiting the race venue

When we wanted to visit the race venue, the organizer himself took us there and when we wanted to go grocery shopping, it was Huzaime Abbas again. He even contributed the coins to pay for the water.

Everything was close together that even after our  race day swims, we were able to get back to the hotel in time for the buffet breakfast (10.30 a.m.). How cool was that!! But next time they will get the swim distance correct and I won't be able to get back in time for the buffet breakfast.


First impressions of Brunei
It is a developed and peaceful country. People are incredibly hospitable. Everyone was nice to us at the airport,  hotel, race pack collection, during briefing etc. Our personal friends wanted to take us out, but it was a short trip.

We feel the people are happy and well educated.

A lady also inadvertently left her purse on a table that a group of us were sitting at.  She drove off, came back, it was still there, alhamdullilah she exclaimed. So they are honest too.


They are sporty
I understand the country officially encourages sport. We could see runners running near the stadium, cyclists on the roads (some cycled to the event) and there was a public pool right next to our hotel. 

At the showers after the swim, they were casually talking about the triathlons they had done and the places they mentioned was quite mind boggling (Cork - Ireland, Florida, North Carolina, Switzerland etc). I guess the country has done well.


Race Venue
Held at the beach of the Berakas Forest Reserve Recreational Park. Its quite an interesting Forest Reserve with places to picnic, change, surau etc.

The beach faces the open sea, i.e. its not protected by a bay, marina etc. When we went on Saturday evening, the currents and waves looked quite strong.

The beach and park is clean.

Race Course
It was a good idea to make the "10 km", 4 laps of 2.5km. Its easier to control and keeps swimmers close to the shore.

Very experienced swimmer, Jose could straight away tell that each lap was not even 2 km long. He was correct.

Feeding was near a turnaround buoy close to the shore, every 2.5 km. A few officials would stand in waist deep water handing out nutrition. I liked this as swimmers could stand  to drink and down their gels.

Actual Swim
Four stooges from KL

The "10km" started at 7.00 a.m. It was drizzling lightly the whole morning and the sea was quite calm. All the buoys were quite visible and I noticed that one could swim in a reasonable straight line without sighting often.

The first lap was only 1.7km on my Garmin 935. The total after 4 laps was only 7 km, so we could have gone another 2 laps to make it closer to 10 km.
Job done

I'm not complaining, this was the first long distance international swim in Brunei and we all knew a lot of effort by many sports enthusiasts had been put in.

Goodies for swimmers
All swimmers received two T shirts, medal, towel, bag etc.
10 km podium finishers also received Brunei Dollars 300, 250 or 200 for third placing.
We missed the actual prize giving, sorry

Links
Brunei Marathon Swim 2018 Race Info

Brunei Marathon Swim 2018 Results

Instagram / Photos of event etc


Will we return?
For sure. THANK YOU to Huzaime Abbas and Race Director, Faizal and the huge team supporting them.

I think this event will be attractive for swimmers coming from Singapore as its only one flight stop away and internal transport is provided.

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Oceanman Krabi 10km Swim on 14 Oct 2018

Thailand, always a wonderful sporting destination
For me, it's Thailand that knows how to hold sporting events. They are nice to visitors, smile a lot, gentle in their demeanour, respect elders and are able to get amazing sponsors. I've never had a bad moment there.
 
I started going there in 1994 for the Laguna Phuket Triathlon at the extremely plush Laguna Beach Resort. That first event in 1994 was jaw dropping for me. Just two weeks after the Hawaii Ironman Triathlon World Championships (which was my first Ironman), all of my heroes, the Professional Triathletes were there to wind down their season. We were bumping into the Pros (Mike Pigg, Mark Allen, Paula Newby, Karen Smyers, Simon Lessing, Lothar Leder, Wendy Ingraham) just everywhere. They turned out to be just simple folks.
 
The host hotel, Laguna Beach Resort was the most plush Resort I had ever been to. The food at the Awards Dinner was amazing, one buffet table had only ice cream on it, nothing else. First time I was exposed to luxurious Thai hospitality. Subsequent Triathlons and Marathons there were still good but not the dizzying heights of the first year (1994).
 
For the past two or three years for me, it was just open water swim events. Whilst they may be at nice beach locations, all of the swims I've participated in, didn't have the full backing of a luxury hotel, until now. Oceanman Krabi had the full backing of the luxurious Dusit Thani Beach Resort, only in Thailand this happens.
 
 
Dusit Thani Krabi  Beach Resort
The Dusit Thani Krabi  Beach Resort was the official host hotel for the inaugural Oceanman swim event in Thailand. They made their luxurious grounds available as the Race Secretariat, hosted the carbo loading dinner and Awards Dinner. I have not seen this happen for a swim event.
 
The Klong Muang Beach and sun set was also very nice. I have never been to Krabi, which is one of the top tourist spots in the world. I quite like Krabi. It is quieter than Pattaya or Phuket. Much easier to drive. The car rental at the airport was super cheap. I can hardly wait returning to Krabi for many years to come.
 
Apart from The Dusit Thani, the event was also supported by the Tourism Authority of Thailand, Provincial Government, The Governor, Tourist Police, Thailand's Navy Rescue etc.
 
 
Thailand Swimathon
In 2016, Thailand Swimathon organized an incredibly successful international swim event at Pattaya. They repeated the event in 2017, again a very well done event. In between they organized a 12km swim from Koh Pha Ngan to Koh Samui. All really excellent events with a very high focus on swimmers' safety.
 
So I am very familiar with the organisers (Anusit and Auttapon). I know swimmers will get a wonderful and safe swim experience, way above the entry fee paid when they are involved.
 
 
Getting there
Air Asia flies there regularly. A car can be rented through Air Asia Go easily and cheaply. Hotel bookings are easy to do, depending on one's budget.
 
There are islands, rock climbing, tigers, trekking, caves etc. A great and still quiet destination to visit.

We stayed along a quiet road not far from the Klong Muang Beach. With a rented car, it wasn't difficult to find restaurants and grocery shops.
 

The Day Before The Race
The Race Secretariat was at the plush grounds of the Dusit Thani. The supervised swim course was open for training. I saw the Thai Navy Rescue so very hard at work setting up the course.
Klong Muang Beach - Day before the race

Carbo Loading Dinner with Duy Luong, my swimming friend from Vietnam
 Briefing was carried out just before the Carbo Loading Dinner by Auttapon. The Dinner was crowded as everyone was there with their loved ones.


The actual swim - 10km

The Swim Course

The swim course for all distances was quite similar. Out parallel to the coastline, right 90 degrees for a few meters, then back to the start. For the 10km, swimmers go out 4.8km, right for 400m going behind Ko Deang (island) then back to the start.

Whilst interesting, there was a few problems with the 10km course:
  1. After going out for about 3km, the course did not receive the protection of the peninsula coastline. It was just the open sea. Waves and currents were actually the strongest I have ever encountered,  close to the turnaround (Ko Daeng).
  2. For about 500m, 10km swimmers were swimming through rubbish. Not sure where the rubbish came from.
  3. Many rocks at the turnaround. It was very dangerous with the unexpected very strong currents. Approximately half the 10km swimmers were safely rescued by the Thai Navy Rescue Team (hoorah).
  4. I wonder how many swimmers actually went around the turnaround buoy. It took me a very long time and unfortunately I saw  swimmers that didn't.
  5. There were no turnaround referees.
  6. The feeding boat behind the island couldn't hold its position.
  7. On the way back, swimmers were taken off course by the strong currents. We didn't see the marker buoys or even the  last feeding boat. But it was much faster swimming back inspite going off course.
  8. There was a very visible "natural course marker" (Dragon Crest mountain tip) that swimmers could have easily used for sighting purposes on the way back, but unfortunately we didn't know about this.
It was unfortunate that on race morning, the currents were unexpectedly very strong. The Thai Navy Rescue did an excellent job. All swimmers came back safely.
 
The 10km actual swim
The 10km started at 6.36 a.m. The sea looked beautiful and super calm from the beach. Buoys were  visible on the way out. I consciously missed the first feeding boat at about 2.6km. Oceanman Krabi did not allow swimmers to touch the feeding boats or kayaks on the course.
 
At about 3km swimmers had to swim through rubbish.
 
Currents were really strong at about 4km, the strongest I have ever encountered. I barely missed the rocks, phew. I knew the situation was very dangerous for average swimmers as even advanced swimmers could barely cope. In fact even swimmers that  have swam 16km, 61km etc had to be rescued.
 
Anyway I managed to go around the two turnaround buoys and the swim back was also an adventure. I overtook many swimmers on the way back.
 
 It was an exciting finish with my close friends from Malaysia. We loved the adrenalin rush. 

PURE ADRENALIN

 
Suggestions for improvements
I absolutely love this event and appreciate the excellent work done by Anusit in securing a luxury hotel as the host and the excellent work done by Auttapon and the Thai Navy Rescue. All swimmers were saved.
 
The suggestions:
  1. Two laps of 5km (2 x 5km) and all problems would be solved. Avoid Ko Daeng.
  2. Advise swimmers to use the Dragon Crest mountain tip as their sighting point.
  3. More marker buoys
  4. Have referees at the turnaround buoys.


GALA DINNER
The grandest prize giving dinner I have attended for a swim event. Free for swimmers.
The Malaysia Boleh went very well
All the prize winners

My turn
Results
Results are here.
116 swimmers started the 10km. Only 61 swimmers officially finished (52%). I was 23rd overall.


THANK YOU

Thank you Oceanman Krabi for the best Oceanman I have participated in. I will definitely return for many years.