Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Port Dickson OWS No. 1 (4 Feb 2018). A Volunteer's perspective

The P.D. Open Water Series No. 1 is the first of seven races planned by Swimon for 2018. Good times indeed. Open water swimmers have never had it so good in Malaysia.
For the first time in 34 years of doing endurance sports, I volunteered for a race rather than being a participant. I didn't feel like getting another heart attack doing the same 2km swim at the same location. The Organiser also made a request and I must say that my wife and I had a most wonderful time on the other side of the fence. I might just stick to volunteering, no I'm just kidding.
200m for kids divided into many age groups.
800m divided into ten year age groups
2km divided into 5 year age groups
There were a total of 386 participants.
My volunteer duty
The primary duty for me and Tip was to correctly give out the 386 Finishers medals, 129 podium medals, 8 trophies, announce the results and be the race judge.
On duty today
Tip in her element and in the sun!
Sorting out the hundreds of medals in a systematic manner suited Tip to a "T". She is always very meticulous and neat with her cooking, fruit carvings etc. She arranged the medals so neatly, that many swimmers took photos of the medal arrangement.
Fellow volunteer Yvonne, whom I only met that day, helped me a ton with getting the prize winners ready.
Cherish Chin was the reliable all rounder bringing me the results as they became available.
Sumai (Amir's right hand person) sorted out everything that got stuck.
Somebody whom I still don't know, took over the setting up of the changing tents when I was stuck at 6.30 am, in the dark.
Then when all swimmers had left, I took a black garbage bag and collected all the rubbish (especially plastics) left behind on the beach stretch.
I'm very happy I did all this, it was wonderful.
The Amazing Volunteer Team
There's actually about 25 people and they in turn have their unofficial helpers.
Our core duties start from Saturday afternoon until Sunday 4 p.m. It was the first time I was meeting many in the team. But you know what?
Everyone was working selflessly for each other without a question being asked. Its an amazing team, all wanting this new sport of Open Water Swimming to hit the ground running.
Part of the large volunteer team
Core duties would include the MC, body marking, bag drop, timing chip, food distribution, course set up, time keeping, photography, personal safety buoy, medal management, walkie talkie, race pack etc.
Then there are numerous duties which have not been assigned but needs willing hands, like escorting the kid swimmers (Jose), Notice Board (Julia), arranging the hundreds of chairs (Azizul), setting up the portable loos (Philip), tent set up, drone, really many things.
This volunteer team just did many tasks, no questions asked.
Race Director, Amir leading the post mortem. We all want to improve
200m for kids
Many kids were doing their first ever OWS Race. No mean feat this. Of course triathlons for kids have been around for more than a decade. Malaysia won Gold Medals at the recent SEA Games in OWS (Heidi Gan and Kevin Yeap). Kevin Yeap has retired from the sport so the country has to develop talent. It wasn't done by the country, NSC or a Sports Association. But it was done by Swimon. So Malaysia, you'd better say thank you, Putrajaya please try to reduce your charges.
The little boy who won by miles (Jacky Aw Tian Jin) looks very good for the future.
A happy kid
Soon after the start I could see that many kids were not good swimmers. Luckily we made the Safety Float compulsory. One kid really couldn't swim. He was Farid, Azura's kid. But then I saw Jose's face bobbing in the water close to Farid. Well well, we got the very best to escort the kids and I didn't worry anymore.
Isn't it wonderful? Kids doing their first OWS Race
ALL KIDS finished safely in this first OWS race for kids in Malaysia.
Farid was last, taking 35 minutes to complete 200m. The official cut off was 25 minutes and Farid had only completed 90m after 25 minutes.
But at the finish, he was a Champion, a World Champion, this is what Sports does to kids.
When I see the photos showing the smiling faces of the kids, yes we did something here.
The 800m was dominated by Ben Lee's kids. They live in Malacca and I have been observing Dad Ben Lee driving his kids from Malacca to various events, starting in the wee hours of the morning.
Their day. Mimi Adriana Lee, Aiman Lee and proud Day, Ben Lee
Today was the Lee family's day. Aiman Lee was the Men's Champion and sister Mimi Adriana Lee was the Female Champion. The siblings also won the 2km Relay. So the siblings took home four trophies out of the eight on offer.
Smiling faces everywhere
The 2000m start. Beautiful
It was the last event to start and the tide was starting to recede very quickly. 4 Feb was a Full Moon day, which means the tide changes would be at its maximum.
The day might have looked clear but the wind and tide picked up very quickly.
It became very tough for the slower swimmers as the buoys moved to Indonesia.
So swimmers took a longer time to finish. But all safely finished and they didn't swim that much extra. All I saw recorded about 2.1km on their smart devices. So this is still ok.
Overall assessment
I think it was an excellent event.
  • No serious medical issues. The two ambulances on standby were not used. Definitely no deaths or anything close to it.
  • Many kids had their first OWS race and this was done by Swimon, not a Sports Association.
  • All swimmers finished safely. No mean feat.
  • All official results electronically available the following day, accurately.
  • The smiling faces of the kids proudly displaying their Finishers' medals, priceless.
  • Happy faces of participants.
  • More than a thousand quality photos and drone footage free for participants.
  • We helped to create unity for the country. The volunteer team was multi racial and the participants were multi racial.
Doesn't Race Director, Amirizal Ishak deserve a medal then?
Open Water Swimming is a new sport in Malaysia. Its incredibly exciting to be a part of this exciting sport in its incubation period. 


Joey Ting said...

It's indeed a good event.. hope there will be more to come.

sofiantriathlete said...

Big contribution by your family Joey.
Thank you