Six Swimmers Complete First Kinmen-Xiamen Test Swim



The 2009 Kinmen-Xiamen Swim is set to take place on Aug. 15. To ensure safety, the first test swim was arranged for Jun. 17. Six swimmers from both sides took the challenge. The first to come ashore was Lin Jiayong from the Mainland, finishing in 1 hour 29 minutes and 23 seconds. The two Taiwanese contestants(1) clocked 2 hours 10 minutes and 2 hours 20 minutes respectively. The first rehearsal(2) for the "Kinmen-Xiamen Swim for Cross-Strait Peace" event went smoothly.

The "Kinmen-Xiamen Swim" is the first athletic event held under official collaboration between Kinmen and Xiamen. The test swim team on the Kinmen side included athletes, lifeguards, water current test specialists, etc., led by Director of the Kinmen Stadium Xu Huansheng. The team left Shueitou Pier on seven workboats some time after 9:00am, met with the pilot boat from Mainland at Binlang Island at 10:20am, then headed toward Xiamen Yefenzhai Beach. Then, the test swim began at 11:40.

The participants included Lai Xiaochun (32-year-old) and Ni Shenglang (46-year-old) from Taiwan, and Lin Jiayong, Liu Hexiang, Song Song (female) and Zhou Yang (female) from the Mainland. They went in the water at Yefengzhai, passed the midway point at Binlang Island, and then turned toward Little Kinmen's Shuangkou Beach. The entire distance was about 8,000 meters and the event ended at 2:10pm. The main purpose of the test swim was to get a feel of the hard-to-predict currents in the waters between Kinmen and Xiamen, as well as to check the safety of the swim route and establish protective measures.

Song Song and Zhou Yang were quite beside themselves(3) after completing the challenge successfully. In excitement, they said to the interviewing reporters that swimming across the waters between Kinmen and Xiamen was a brand new experience. Despite the long distance and the feeling of solitude(4) on the ocean, they were not tired at all. People applauded(5) and hurrahed(6) at their impressive physical strength and endurance(7) when the two good-looking Chinese swimmers arrived at the finishing point. Naturally they became the target of all the TV and print media.

The Taiwanese contestant, Ni Shenglang, had won the title of champion in the freestyle race of the 2006 National Age-Group Swimming Competition and 4th place in the individual medley.(8) After finishing in 2 hours and 10 minutes, he pointed out that the currents between Kinmen and Xiamen were more unpredictable and complex than he had expected. When one is not careful, he or she could be easily carried off the route by undercurrents. However, everything had gone smoothly. On the other hand, the water temperature was just right and comfortable. He was excited about having set a historic record.

Having been a swimmer for 14 years, Lai Xiaochun (32-year-old) is from Taitung and currently working in Taipei. She had participated in triathlons(9) with remarkable results. After finishing in 2 hours and 20 minutes, she commented that she had never dreamed about swimming from one country back to her own. She was simply overjoyed by the experience. According to Lai, the currents around Binlang Island were unsteady and difficult to manage. Occasionally, she had the feeling that her body was being torn apart by a strong force. Other than that, the navigating boat sometimes could lead to pacing errors and have an effect on the strength of swimmers.

County Education Bureau Director Li Zaihang was very happy with the process of the first test swim. For the oyster shelves and spear-like anti-landing barricades(10) that came in the way at Shuangkou Beach, he stated that he would negotiate with Lieyu Township Village Administration to dismantle(11) the oyster shelves, while the military already promising to remove 250 meters of the anti-landing barricades 20 days before the official event to ensure safety for the athletes. Lieyu Township Chief Lin Chin-liang said he was happy that the county government conducted the activity in Little Kinmen and that he would do everything he could to assist in this positive event for Cross-Strait peace.

The swimmers, lifeguards, water current test specialists and sailors totaled over 30 people, including the 6 swimmers mentioned above. Other personnel mobilized for the test swim also included 2 at the organizing office, 2 for the swim route unit, 2 for the competition unit, 2 on the 30hp IRB powered inflatable rescue boat, 3 on the 85hp FRB powered fast rescue boat, 3 on the 150hp powerboat, 3 on two canoes, and a crew on the research boat from the Fisheries Research Insti tute.

Although this was just a test swim, both Kinmen and Xiamen governments set up three layers of protection. The first and inner layer of protection is that each swimmer be safeguarded by a canoe following all the way. The second and middle layer of protection to include jet skis, IRB, and FRB ready to rescue the swimmers in case of emergencies. The third layer of protection provides the commanding boats (emergency aid included) from both sides.

According to the Chairman of Masters Swimming Association of Taiwan Zhang Xinlong, the athletes for the first test swim were carefully selected. As a result, the event had gone smoothly and finished half hour earlier than originally expected. However, a close review was still required. The second test swim is scheduled for Jul. 17. The swimmers will be provided small cucumbers to quench(12) their thirst and vitamin supplementation for their strength.

County Education Bureau Director Li Zaihang pointed out that the purpose of the test swims was to confirm the safe route and distance, ascertain the influence of change of water currents, tides and hidden reefs on the swimmers and the rescue vessels, to become familiar with security and emergency measures so that everything could go smoothly during the official swim. The Education Bureau will hold a meeting to review the test swim.

■1. contestant-(n)參與競賽者,角逐者。
■2. rehearsal-(n)預演、排練、演習。
■3. beside oneself-片語,極度興奮。
■4. solitude-(n)寂寞;孤寂。
■5. applaud-(vt)向~鼓掌;向~喝采。
■6. hurrah-(vt)以歡呼聲迎接~,為~喝采。當名詞使用,是興奮時所喊出的感嘆詞,「萬歲」!
■7. endurance-(n)耐久力;持久力。
■8. medley-(n)混合、混雜。指游泳比賽當中的四式混合。
■9. triathlon-(n)指游泳、單車、路跑等三項混合的「鐵人三項」。
■10. barricade-(n)障礙物,路障。此處係指軌條砦。
■11. dismantle-(vt)拆除、拆卸。
■12. quench-(vt)解渴;壓抑(慾望),抑制,撲滅。


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