Endurance swimmer Ingemar “Pinoy Aquaman” Macarine is heading for the United Kingdom over the weekend in his quest to become the first Filipino to cross the 21-mile (33.8km) English Channel next month.
Macarine, an environmental lawyer who has staged several record-breaking open water swims around the country, will start his acclimatization training next week in the cold waters of English Channel, which separates southern England and northern France.
The acclimatization in Folkstone will focus on training Macarine’s body to endure the 15-degree Celsius water temperature in the channel, which according to him is one of his “greatest concern.”
“Most of the endurance swimmers who tried the area gave up because of the water temperature,” he told the Philippine News Agency Wednesday (July 26).
Mt. Everest of swimming
Macarine, 41, attempted the English Channel swim last year but went home empty-handed due to bad weather.
To prepare for this swim, Macarine said his swimming coach instructed him to “swim two hours everyday in the cold water.”
According to the website of Channel Swimming Association’s (CSA), which manages the swimming attempts at the UK’s side of the English Channel, the crossing “usually start at or near Shakespeare’s Cliff or Samphire Hoe (in between Folkestone and Dover), and aim to finish at or near Cap Gris Nez (between Boulogne and Calais).”
Macarine considers the 21-mile swim “the Mt. Everest of long-distance swimming,” especially for him who comes from a country with tropical climate.
Thelmo Cunanan Jr., founder of the First Filipino International Movement that is organizing the First Filipino English Channel Swim, agrees.
“This is considered the “Mount Everest’” of open water swims and will be a test of physical and mental strength, courage, sheer human will and heart,” said Cunanan.
However, Macarine said his previous long-distance swims, including in the cold waters of the United States, have prepared him for the task.
Macarine successfully swam the Chesapeake Bay in Maryland in 2015, the Alcatraz Island Penitentiary to mainland San Francisco in California in 2014, and in Lake Lane in Florida in 2014. In May this year, the “Pinoy Aquaman” conquered the 8.4-kilometer icy cold waters of the Hudson River in New York.
Macarine, an official of the Commission on Elections (Comelec), has a total of 32 open water swims under his belt.
This year alone, he completed six marathons swims in the country, including the 24 kilometer grueling swim from Dumaguete to Siquijor, and the 18-kilometer Argao, Cebu to Loon, Bohol swim.
The Surigao-born swimmer said he intends to finish the English Channel swim in 16 hours.
“This swim, I will only be wearing regular swimming trunks, swimming cap and goggles,” he said, noting that he will not wear any thermal suit.
According to the CSA, the shortest distance to cross the English Channel is 21 miles, but some swimmers may have to swim longer if they miss Cap Gris Nez because of the current.
The association said the channel became popular among swimmers when Matthew Webb, a 27-year-old steamship captain, successfully crossed it in 1875.
Since Webb, about 1,100 solo swimmers have conquered the distance, the CSA said.
Macarine said he will try his crossing between August 15 and 20, citing strict rules set by the Channel Swimming and Pilots Association.
The association requires swimmers to register and assigns swimmers to a boat captain who is trained to monitor channel swimmers.
On any given day, 10 to 12 swimmers may be in the water, CSA said, but they are going at different speeds and taking different routes between England and France.
Macarine’s swim is part of his lifetime advocacy for clean seas, environmental tourism, and climate change awareness.
Just like in his previous open water marathons, Macarine will adhere to the Marathon Swimming Federation Rules and performed solo swimming without floating aid or help from any human or sea vessel.
The English Channel crossing is supported by the Philippine Sports Commission and the Comelec. (Roel N. Catoto/PNA)