Quite simply, the best swim event I have participated in. The Thais, specifically the Sport Buddy Open Water Swimming, are very adept at organising a "happening" sporting event.
It was a first time effort by them and with their broken English web-site, we were not quite sure what to expect. But we were all very pleasantly surprised with the outcome.
Some of the amazing points were:
- Being very welcoming and smiling at all participants. Thailand is not the most visited country in the world for nothing. It was only Thai and Malaysian participants this time around, the rest of the world had not caught on.
- A Race Expo over the weekend (3rd and 4th Dec). A small Expo, but it was an Expo no less where swimmers were able to purchase swimming stuff.
- All announcements over the mike in Thai and English throughout the weekend.
- A well organized practice swim on the Saturday, and this was just the practice swim. So we were all very excited for the real day.
- 1 km per lap course. 500m out and 500m back in a straight line. This is a very exciting format as it meant there were always other swimmers around. I drafted a very polite Thai swimmer for the first nine km.
- A very well marked and safe course, it was just not possible to deviate. The line and safety buoys went the whole length of the course and could be used for resting purposes.
- Sheltered waters. This wasn't the real ocean. So it meant a very safe and fast course. I did a huge 10km Personal Best for the 10.8 km (the actual distance on my Garmin 920XT) course.
- Accurate timing system. Full accurate results and splits were available on the internet within hours.
- Back on the beach after each km. Participants had to do a lap count at the end of each lap. Abundant fruits and drinks were available on the beach. Loud music blaring away. Phew adrenalin was pumping every time we got back on the beach. The beach was also feet friendly, no rocks, dead corals etc.
- Quality silicon swim caps with the distances printed for all participants. Something to cherish.
- A specially printed hooded Sweat Top for all 10km Finishers. The words "10km Finisher" clearly visible. Definitely something to cherish with pride.
- Medals for all Finishers.
- Hotels (we recommend 407 Long Beach and Nantra Hotels) and food places, a park, toilets, extra shower facilities within walking distance. The Hotel owner even sent one participant to the airport FOC, amazing.
- My personal favourite plus point for the event was the absolute quality photos FREE on the organiser's Facebook page. There must have been about 30 photos of me, and I was a nobody. The Champ, Rupert Tan must have had more than a hundred photos, with the family, underwater shots etc. Definitely a happy holiday for his family. These photos are not just mere photos of you scrambling on the beach, but real swim photos whilst in the ocean. I wonder just how they managed to get these shots, well the Photographer has a huge monkey lens on his camera.
- The Thai Navy provided safety kayaks, jet skis on the short course. Very safe.
Air Asia flies directly there most days (not everyday). A few Malaysians flew to Bangkok and then went by land to Pattaya. That was a mistake.
The race is held at a popular local beach (Ban Amphur Beach, not the main Pattaya Beach). So there are amenities, hotels, parking, restaurants nearby.
407 Long Beach Hotel is walking distance to race site.
Nantra Hotel is walkable for fit swimmers but not if you have loved ones in tow. There's a brilliant restaurant (Preecha) right beside Nantra.
We actually stayed at De Amber Condo at Bang Seray Beach after the owner (Alex Tel No. 098 4748037) offered us a brand new condo with top notch fittings at a very low price. You need a car for De Amber though. Long Beach has many 10 out of 10 ratings on Booking.com. Alex is a most wonderful English chap. He sent a participant to the Pattaya Airport for free.
Attractions at Pattaya
Well there are many many nicer beaches in Thailand and the sea is murky.
But its still great for a short holiday. We all went to the Floating Market.
Thailand as usual has great food everywhere and its always nice to holiday in Thailand.
There's only Avis at the Airport costing about RM160 per day. A bit costly but we took it.
Sport Buddy Face Book Page
Go to the Sport Buddy Facebook page for hundreds of quality photos, drone video of the event, race results, so on. Its really worth your while getting to know about them.
Events by Sport Buddy in 2017
Apart from a repeat of the Swimathon on 3 Dec 2017 (it will be 1.25 km per lap in 2017), there's the 12km Koh Samui Channel Crossing in May 2017, jeng, jeng jeng.
Drone view of the very safe course
Fruits and drinks for participants every one km
Quality swim photo (me)
Rupert Tan, the Champion
Race Director overseeing things
Medals for everyone
Another quality pic
The Race Director with the Woman Champion who also finished 2nd Overall, holding the quality Sweat Shirt given to all 10km Finishers
Clearly marked course
Water and Sports Drink on the beach after every one km
Another quality pic
Part of the EXPO
I 100% recommend this Race .