This is the second year of Oceanman Krabi and the number of swimmers have roughly tripled to more than 900. Must be because of my posittive blog report last year (just kidding).
The event organiser is A Thrive Co. Ltd. (Anusit Sukprasert "Golf"). They organise numerous sporting events throughout the year. Sergeant O (Auttapon Pramuansinkum of Sport Buddy, Satahip) and the Royal Thai Navy handles the swim course and safety aspect.
Together "Golf" and Sport Buddy have organised numerous successful and exciting swimming events. They were the Thailand Swimathon at Pattaya on 9 Dec 2018, Oceanman Krabi 2018, Thailand Swimathon on 2 Dec 2017, 12 km Samui Channel Swim in May 2017 and Thailand Swimathon 2016 on 4 Dec 2016, which was the first time I met them. Meeting them were very instrumental in making me fall in love with Open Water Swimming. I love these guys and OWS in Thailand.
Like many other top sporting events in Thailand, Oceanman Krabi is strongly supported by the local government (the Governor of Krabi Province no less, gave away the prizes), Tourism Authority of Thailand, a luxury hotel (The Dusit Thani), Royal Thai Navy and many uniformed bodies and commercial sponsors.
The Thai people I feel are the most welcoming ("Land of Smiles") and gentle people I know (I married one). Plus they know how to party and make even a swimming event, fun. With the many beautiful sights around Krabi, one really can't go wrong taking part in Oceanman Thailand.
Swim events planned for 2020 in Thailand
The next Oceanman Krabi has already been confirmed for 25 Oct 2020 and there will also be another two Oceanman events in Thailand in 2020. Thailand Swimathon have told me to expect four events from them. So 2020 will indeed be a very exciting year for OWS in Thailand.
Getting there, moving about and places to stay
Air Asia has many flights each day to Krabi, unlike Pattaya, where there are only a few flights the whole week. The flights are also cheaper to Krabi. Krabi Airport is decent. Eating options at the airport are limited though.
This year (2019), the Organisers provided free shuttle service to the race site. Otherwise, I understand it is quite expensive to take the local taxi. So I recommend renting a car online with the car to be picked up and returned at the airport. It is very convenient and cheap and you will always get a good car. This year, for quite a new car, it was only RM 130 per day. With Google Maps or Waze, driving around Krabi is quite pleasant with its wide and quiet roads. Two possible car rental booking sites are booking.com or air asia car rental.
Hotels are numerous. I think we all know how to book hotels. The official hotel, Dusit Thani is a possible option. A new and value for money condotel is The Beach @ Klong Muang (no alcohol allowed). I stay somewhere else, BTW.
Muslim friendly location
Krabi has a large muslim population. Mosques and halal food are everywhere. The Beach is a halal condotel (no alcohol). Dusit Thani does not serve strictly halal food.
|The Beach @ Klong Muang, a new and value for money condotel near to the race site|
Day before the Race
Race registration, indemnity form sign off and goodie bag collection is within the plush Dusit Thani grounds. Tents, large placards, EXPO, start / finish gantry have all been set up. Everything is well done, swimmers will get a good feel about the event.
|Incredible race setting|
|Turnaround island for 10 km. Commit to memory its shape for sighting purposes|
Carbo loading dinner, race briefing and event launch
I actually missed it and ate nearby. I knew from last year, that it would be packed with people and the food would be mostly plain pasta. I think I was right as I was told one had to queue for a good 30 minutes for food.
Race Day - my actual swim (10 km)
|Ready to go|
|Just before the 10 km start. Cloudy but calm at this point|
The race duly started at 6.30 a.m. sharp. It must have been after only a few seconds, suddenly the heavens opened and it was heavy rain, strong winds, waves going up and down and swimmers crashing into each other.
I have never been so scared in a swim, really. I thought I was going to get a heart or panic attack. Suddenly my tummy started churning and I was totally loosing it. Oh no, am I going to DNF? Stay calm, stay calm, that's my favourite mantra in choppy waters. I only wanted to hang in and not bother at all about speed.
The weather was very bad for maybe the first 2.5 km. Then rubbish appeared, tons of rubbish. I saw the feeding boat but it was slightly off course and I didn't want to waste time, preferring to wait for the next feeding at 5 km.
I'm also very uncomfortable when there are swimmers around me or when someone keeps on touching my feet. All my swim training is done in solitude at home, so I have no qualms swimming on my own.
I found myself alone and just headed for the island. The under water scenery this year was better than last year. Not as good as Perhentian, but beggars can't be choosy. I always try to look at the underwater scenery (if there is any) to get a sense of whether I was moving along.
A long line of swimmers appeared from nowhere as we neared the island. I was mindful to stay away from the rocks but luckily, the currents around the island this year were no where near as strong as last year.
I was totally famished and thirsty at the feeding boat and took time to drink two small bottles of water, down a banana and a gel. It seemed like there were a hundred swimmers there. I'd thought I must have gone off course. But to my surprise I saw Claire, who had beaten me by very clear margins at the last two Perhentian 16 km swims. So it wasn't quite as bad as I had thought.
|The turnaround feeding boat felt like a god send. I was even photographed|
After the feeding, we couldn't see the next buoy. We just couldn't see anything. Claire pushed on but none of us knew the right way. I vaguely remembered to head for the Dragon peak but I wasn't quite sure. The swim pack was huge. They seemed to be following us, whatever we did.
At about 3 km to go, the sea flattened and I could suddenly see a long line of parallel marker buoys. What luck!!!! I now knew what to target (yes it was the Dragon Crest) and I was feeling completely rejuvenated.
So it was just like swimming in my own pool and the aches all seemed to go away as I didn't have to lift up my head to sight anymore. I was on my own and pulled away from everyone, even Claire. I swam from buoy to buoy (each about 500 m apart). I downed one more gel and went as fast as I could without slowing down. The last 2.5 km was "squeaky bum" time. One should not slow down or stop to adjust anything. Made to the beach alone.
I enjoyed the run on the beach to the finish gantry. That run was actually my longest run the whole year as I don't run anymore after my hip replacement in May 2016.
|Longer beach run this year - FUN|
3 hours 35 minutes at the finish (vs 3 hours 42 mins last year). The next batch of 10 km swimmers came in at 3 hours 37 minutes. A good day at the office, I would say.
TIP : How to sight during the 10 km
|The official course map. But during the Race it won't look like that|
|Ko Daeng (turnaround island). Memorise the shape.|
|Dragon Crest (I think). Head for that yellow line to finish.|
Its all about sighting landmarks in Open Water Swimming. Marker buoys and boats are notoriously unreliable as targets. Buoys and boats can move about. Marker buoys also look like personal safety floats. When the weather is mad and waves choppy, everything looks a mess. You have no idea where you are going.
But something does not change, whatever the circumstance. Landmarks, islands, mountain tips. This is what you always look for in Open Water Swimming because they are easy to see and don't change.
Swimming out, use Ko Daeng as your target. Memorise its shape.
Swimming back, head for the mountain tip (I think its called Dragon Crest. The finish line is actually to the left of that mountain tip, the yellow line above).
Super easy, that's why I left the large group behind.
Comparing the swim in 2019 vs 2018
I feel that there were more choppy waves in 2019, but the currents were definitely stronger in 2018. There were places in 2018 where the swimmer was hardly moving, causing a very high DNF rate.
The DNF rate in 2018 was 48% vs about 25% in 2019 (if we assume everyone started, but maybe 10% DNS).
The 5 km turnaround in 2019 was much easier than in 2018, much less currents. It was a good idea to have the turning buoy closer to the island in 2019, as last year I saw many swimmers going around the island but not the turning buoy.
The feeding boat at the turnaround in 2019, did a much better job. The boat to remain stationary unlike in 2018. The feeders knew what they were doing and there was even a Pro photographer on board (CK).
Some swimmers were faster in 2018 (eg. Rupert, Charin) whilst some were faster in 2019 (eg Serge, Steven and me). Its a mixed bag. So I'm not 100% sure which year was the faster course.
|10 km Champion. Fredric Liljestroem (2:24). Rupert Tan's 2:23 last year is still the course record|
|5 km Overall Champ. Jose Lois Larossa (1:08) New course record|
|Sexy Serge Dominichini 50+ Champion (2:43). Improved by 41 mins from 2018!!!|
|Simon (5 km 1:38) and Claire (10 km 3:37)|
|Mohd Zaimar (3:37) has improved by leaps and bounds|
|Yasmin (read last year's report), 4:58 first ever 10 km, Third|
|My buddy, Tim (3:41)|
|60+ podium. Myself, Harry (3:34) and Tim (3:41)|
Results and Prize Giving
Full results: HERE
|10 km Champion Fredric Liljestroem (2:24)|
|Very nice gesture by Rupert Tan (2:28) and his parents to present Golf with a souvenier|
|I exchanged a few words with the Governor, very nice man. 2nd 60+ for me|
|We didn't do a "Malaysia Boleh" this year, most had left|
Sight seeing at Krabi
Krabi is a top tourist destination. Many beautiful islands and beaches around and many other things too.
We took the Four Island Tour by Sea Eagle Tour Company and totally recommend this Company and "Guide Fay". Trip Advisor has lots of useful information
|Please use this type of shoe for the island tours. Slippers have to handed in.|
Definitely recommend Oceanman Thailand on 25 Oct 2020 and the other two Oceanmans planned for Thailand in 2020, and all swim events by Thailand Swimathon in 2020.
Khop Khun Krup / Thank you