|About to start (7.30 a.m.), Barat Jetty
The Covid situation has cancelled the annual Perhentian Round Island Swim (16km) scheduled for 10 Oct 2020. Swimon though held an informal "Perhentian Escape 3" complete with a small competent medical team, so I decided to do my own long swim long swim on the same weekend.
Last year's Perhentian Race was excellent. Indeed, the whole of 2019 was my most enjoyable year in swimming. So early in 2020, I purchased many flights and made hotel bookings for the whole of 2020. But in March travel restrictions kicked in and will remain until the end of 2020, maybe even longer.
We did manage a 2 km local swim race in Feb 2020. Then March came and all swimming was initially not allowed. Some relaxation came and luckily my apartment opened its swimming pool with conditions. It was enough for training purposes.
From 14 Oct 2020, swimming in pools has been banned again. The 10 Oct swim was our only trip for the year 2020, so we had to make it count.
In 2019, I swam around Perhentian Kecil with Claire. Claire was still having a lockdown in Spore so for the Oct 2020 swim, I did it with Emily Wang. All three of us (Claire, Emily and myself) swim at very similar speeds. We know each other's swimming very well.
8 & 9 Oct, Barat Perhentian
There wasn't the usual crowd when we travelled. We stayed at the Barat Perhentian which is actually my favourite hotel even though it is not a top hotel. I just love the restaurant ambience.. You won't be bored. Indeed, I stayed there the whole of Sunday to recover from my Saturday swim. The night time BBQ is excellent and its Menu items are pretty good too.
The Barat floating jetty is brilliant. Its convenient to start and end your long round island swims or for going to the village and clinic (very important).
|The floating Barat Jetty (very convenient)
I noticed that the sea water was the murkiest I've seen at Perhentian. Maybe the start of the rainy season and the unusually low tides had stirred up the mud.
My trusted boatman, Jebat (H/P : +60197112300)
I have liked him from Day One. He has a lovely caring personality. He will make sure the swimmer is ok. He is now very experienced at escorting swimmers and can handle A to Z.
|Jebat, my boatman. I trust him completely
Jebat can get ready foam boxes, ice, bananas (the swimmer doesn't have to buy these in advance), siren, red flag, phone etc. He is able to pilot the boat and do the feeding alone all by himself but this time his son came along.
He figured out himself that next time, he will force me to stop for liquids as I was severely dehydrated at the end.
He treated us to refreshments the day before and even brought breakfast (authentic Nasi Dagang) for my wife who loved it immensely. So, I always overpay him and I completely recommend him to any swimmer.
The Plan was to try and swim twice around Perhentian Kecil I prefer Kecil for its incredible underwater scenery, but this time the water was murky.
Swim Day Saturday 10 Oct 2020
Jebat arrived promptly at 7.20 a.m. as agreed. We started the swim at 7.36 a.m. from the Barat Jetty.
It was a perfect cloudy day with no waves. The speed initially was quite good (10 / 11 mins every 500 m). Minor problems only arose when we reached the northern tip of the island. Its a popular snorkeling place and there is normally a narrow channel to swim through (very exciting). The current is quite odd here. Sometimes it goes one way and sometimes it goes the opposite. The water was very shallow and we were actually almost walking on some rocks.
We made it through this channel safely, but avoided it for the second lap, choosing to swim wider around.
The western side of Kecil is always calm due to the mainland I think. Its best to swim from north to south to go with the current.
The first lap was completed in 5 hrs 20 mins, the fastest yet for me. The distance swam on the watch was unreliable, stopping completely for very long periods. We took a short break for swimmers and crew to do our respective things.
My tummy was feeling funny I think from the bananas. Part of me actually wanted to stop. But luckily Emily wanted to carry on and swim at least 20 km. I did nature's call, Emily changed her swim wear, Jebat did his prayers, we waited for Emily's family but just missed them.
We started the second lap at 1329 hours and I knew straight away that my tummy was cleared, that I was feeling fine and I had a good chance of finishing.
|Start of Second Lap
The wind had picked up and it was quite choppy, going slower than the first lap. After about half way, our speed was even faster than the first lap.
I knew I had a chance and in my haste didn't hardly stopped during the second lap. Emily went into the boat, i couldn't recall when. I was a blur at the end and couldn't remember many things.
But finished I did.
Total swim time (excluding the half way break) was 10 hours 56 mins for 27 +km.
I didn't remember much. Emily took a lot of good videos of the end (Thank You). We took our family photos and I remember going back to the hotel room for a shower, then dinner.
|Rejoicing with our families
Then I blacked out, I suppose.
Looking at the photos, I laid out on the settee at the Barat Reception. Swimon's Perhentian Escape 3 participants and the medical support (Dr Amira and Irfan) were around too.
|Thank you Apek Pacer Dr Chooi
Dr Apek Pacer (YS Chooi) was the first medical person I understand to check me out. Amir had a brand new stretcher and six people used it to place me in a boat. I was taken to the Government Klinik on Perhentian Kecil.
The Village Klinik is actually not bad. I was quite comfortable. Dr Amira and Irfan were quite comfortable with the medical equipment there. They got me on drips, ECG and other things I didn't understand. Jebat my trusted boatman came to check up on me.
|THANK YOU Dr Amira, Nurse Irfan (Village Klinik was F.O.C.)
I recovered very quickly after the drip. I could go on the return boat without assistance. Paid RM 50 to the boatman for five of us (Amir, Dr Amira, Irfan, my wife and myself). Returned to the hotel and slept quite well.
My eternal gratitude to all
This is my second medical emergency from a swim.
The first time, I had a full blown heart attack on 18 Dec 2016 at Port Dickson. Amir's safety set up worked liked a T. Cherish Chin and a fisherman life guard pulled me out the water. Ariff and his ambulance team got me to the Port Dickson General Hospital very quickly. The P.D. Hospital only has Third Class wards, but they saved me very well (led by Dr Siti at the Wards, a superb young Indian Doctor at Emergency and all his staff, the nurses at the third class ward. The follow up was at the National Heart Institute. I still go there every six months.
This time, it was "just dehydration". Still scary as I blacked out which can't be a good thing to happen.
Somehow I survived. Somehow many people came to my rescue both times. They say God works in mysterious ways. I don't know. The previous day at the Perhentian Village I made a good donation to twenty real needy village folks. So maybe, if you help others, "fate" will in turn take care of you.
Whatever it is, everyone has my gratitude.
DRINK REGULARLY during the swim. Thank You.