Sunday, July 08, 2018

Bali 10 km Charity Swim on 1 July 2018

This was  my fourth consecutive year,  doing this Charity swim. My blog Reports for the earlier swims were 2017, 2016 and 2015.

The effect of  Mt Agung
This time, a local volcano (Mt. Agung) added to the excitement. On Friday (29th June), Bali Denpasar Airport was actually closed from about 3 a.m. to around 5 p.m. This meant that about ten swimmers (out of twenty) that had paid for the 10 km were unable to participate. Our inbound flight was on Saturday, so we only experienced flight delays, but no cancellations. I feel terrible for a close friend of mine, who had to cancel everything after looking forward to the swim for such a long time.
I felt that the Kuta sky was a bit darker than normal. The famed sunset went missing and the sea was a bit murkier on race day.
After the swim, we departed Bali on Tuesday at around 3 p.m. But by 9 p.m., Mt Agung was spewing lava again, this time the airport was not closed.
So I guess we were very lucky, that we were able to get in, swim and get out.
Background Info - Bali Ocean Swim
1 July 2018 was the ninth consecutive year of the Bali Ocean Swim. It is a real Charity swim event. The entry fee is high (USD 100 for 10 km) but proceeds goes to the BSF (Bali Sports Foundation), Kuta Baliwista (Kuta Lifeguards), young swimmers, the handicapped etc.
One gets a "good feeling" participating as there are many special needs / handicapped youngsters attending to us during the Registration process. During each of the four years I participated, I made special donations to the BSF and / or Kuta Baliwista.
The lifeguards are very professional, humble and nice people. They organize the swim course every year and being Lifeguards, take the safety of swimmers very seriously. Every year I would have at least one kayak shadowing me for the latter part of the race. The event is even safe for handicapped swimmers.

The Head Lifeguard, Kuta Baliwista. A wonderful chap.
The downside to this event is that there are no Finisher's medals or T shirts. 10 km Finishers only get a towel and certificate. I have four of these towels now.

At another Charity swim event, Clean Half Extreme Marathon Swim at Hong Kong, there are no mementoes at all for participants, unless you win. I guess Charity swims try to minimize costs.
At Bali, there are no age-groups for the 10km, its only Men's Open and Women's Open. The Champion gets a small Plaque, whilst Second and Third gets a cheap looking medal.
Race Registration
Registration for the Race can be done by bank transfer before the event. However, there is a better alternative. where Registration / payment can be done at the Reception of the official hotel Bali Garden Beach Resort by 5 p.m. the day before the event. You must pay in CASH (eg USD 100 cash for 10 km).
Registration / Payment can even be done on race morning in cash.
Race registration. All volunteers at the counter are in wheelchairs, a real Charity event.
Race Morning
Reporting counters open at 6.30 a.m.
Registration / Payment can even be done on race morning if you haven't done so.
Body marking starts at about 7 a.m.
At 8 a.m. you need to give your special needs (if any) to the boat men.
8.30 a.m. is race briefing.
9 a.m. the 10 km starts.
The 5 km and 1.2 km races starts shortly later.

Course Background
The sea temperature is about 26 degrees, which is quite  cool initially, but perfect for swimming. The water is murky ( I immediately crashed into Simon at the start as I couldn't see anything). Somehow nothing comes close to the islands off Terengganu when it comes to water clarity.

I didn't see any jelly fishes in all my four years at Bali. It's a safe beach (no rocks) and popular with new surfers. In 2018, the water close to the beach was positively black and oily, probably from the many fishing boats close to the shore.
The safety float is not allowed at Bali but this is ok as very competent Lifeguards are everywhere.
The course is roughly four laps of about 2.5 km. Buoys are about 250m in a perfectly straight line. Swimmers should always aim for the next buoy and they will swim in a straight line. The turnaround points though are actually flags (a bit difficult to see compared to the much larger buoys).
There are no specific rules on swimwear.
Eleven swimmers (7 males and 4 females) started the 10 km (twenty names had registered).
10 of the 11 swimmers that started the 10km. The overall winner was behind the gantry. 2nd overall, Jamie Bowler is far left.
I started right at the back and after the initial warm up settled into seventh position all the way to the finish.. There was a lady swimmer just in front of me but I just couldn't bridge the gap. Even at the finish, my usually reliable finishing kick couldn't reel her in. So well done to Dutch Lady, Adrienne Plaisier. It was her first 10 km swim event.
In long distance swimming, I think one can only go at the same constant speed the whole way. So once you are settled into your position, that would be it, right until the end.
I used two GPS watches (Garmin 920XT and 735XT) and realized at the first turnaround that the course was over distance. My speed was also slower than the previous year, so no PB.
Job done
The turnaround marker at 5km / 9.9 km is a fishing boat with a flag, rather than the usual huge buoy. I had trouble sighting this flag as there were other fishing boats nearby. I made a rookie mistake and headed for the wrong fishing boat. Adrianne headed for the right boat, so I couldn't catch her. My mistake.

Another watch (920XT) had it as 11.2 km
In the end, I was fourth male (just missing the podium for the first time in Bali) and seventh overall out of eleven swimmers. 

I was 7th Overall. 4th Male
All swimmers finished, which is great. Bali actually attracts very fast swimmers to its event every year. For example in 2015, I was dead last. It would be interesting to see how our Jose would fare against the best that came.
1st Women, Jamie Bowler, a regular participant and sometime first Overall.
 The Pros
  • The race location (Kuta Beach) is only about 3 km from the Airport. At many other events, getting to the nearest Airport is only the start of the battle.
  • There are many hotels at Kuta Beach, really many hotels. The swimmer can have breakfast at their own hotel and still won't be late. After the swim, the swimmer can walk back to their  hotel to shower off.
  • Very competent Lifeguards on duty. The course is set out by the same professional Lifeguards (Kuta Baliwista) every year. At many events, the course is marshalled by ordinary kayakers who are not real Lifeguards, but not at Bali.
  • Not seriously choppy. Cool sea water temperature. Support kayaks everywhere with drinking water available.
The Cons
  • Unfortunately there's no Finisher's Medals or an event T shirt. Even the podium winners only receive cheap looking medals. So I don't think spoilt Malaysians will come to this event in droves.
  • The cost. Bali is an expensive holiday destination. Hotel food and taxis, the prices are astronomical.

I will return in 2019, inshallah.
I go to all events with my wife. Thank you.
Thank you
8 July 2018

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