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Sunday, May 16, 2010

A Humanitarian Adventure From Oceania To Asia

"It's been a very big adventure, an incredible experience," said Marcos Diaz after the first leg of his Swim Across the Continents project.

"It took 4 hours and 18 minutes to complete the 19.7K swim from Papua New Guinea to Indonesia. The conditions changed a lot throughout the swim, but I received tremendous support."

"Throughout the swim, from Wutung Village in Papua New Guinea to Mabo Village in Jayapura, Indonesia, the conditions changed a lot."

"From small swells and some wind in very warm water to a completely dead calm [see below] when we reached a big river a few kilometers before the finish, there were some challenges

Marcos' swim was always something more than a marathon swim; it was an international sharing of cross-border friendship. "I visited the Friends Foundation (for orphans) outside Port Moredby, the Jubelee School, Papua New Guinea Swimming Federation and governors and ambassadors before flying to the north coast of Papua New Guinea for the start."

But getting to the start was an adventure in itself. "After the flights to the north coast, we took off on a long trip via off-road vehicles and then took a 7-hour boat ride through the night in order to finally arrive at Vanimo, the starting location, [a great surfing location] and the capital of Sandaun province in Papua New Guinea, close to the border with Indonesia."

But the water conditions were not always what was most on Marcos' mind.

"I was very afraid because of the salt water crocodiles. I was surrounded by many escort boats including Indonesia Coast Guards and divers. During the last few kilometers, I face a very strong current against us, but I could see all the people waiting at the finish to that final push was very special [because it was hard and because of the expectations of the crowd]."

While the swim was the first in the area, Marcos' goals have always been about more than a marathon swim.

"Our team has been warmly welcomed by the people of Papua New Guinea. There have been many expresions of happiness, hope and motivation for this swim is to bring attention to humanitarian matters that help countries like Papua New Guinea. It was hard to get the project organized, but it is worthwhile. I have received tremendous support by the goverment, sports groups, the media and the United Nations."

Upper photo by Oliver Olivo. Lower photo by Jaime Guerra.

Copyright © 2010 by Open Water Source

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