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Saturday, May 24, 2014

Pretty In Pink, Simon Holliday Completes The Clean Cross

Courtesy of WOWSA, Huntington Beach, California.

Today, Simon Holliday's 35 km Clean Cross Swim from Hong Kong to Macau across the Pearl River Delta was a success at many levels.

Firstly, he raised over HK$250,000 to support Ocean Recovery Alliance and its Grate Art project.

Secondly, he safely finished the crossing in record time, 10 hours 20 minutes 30 seconds to beat the existing record of 10 hours 43 minutes by Zhang Jian in 2005.

Thirdly, he swam with escort pink and white dolphins for over an hour during the crossing.

"Today was one of the most amazing days ever," said Doug Woodring of Ocean Recovery Alliance.

"You would not have believed the 30+ pink dolphins swimming around Simon for more than an hour. He completed the Clean Cross Swim and his escort paddler Shu Pu was the first solo paddler in an outrigger to cross the delta. Thanks to the dolphins for their big support."

As Holliday stood on Tai O, Lantau Island in Hong Kong, he knew the swim could be done. The 35-year-old had put in the training, he had put in time to finalize the logistics, he had gathered an experienced support crew and pilot, the conditions were nearly perfect to execute upon the navigational plans in place.

While he visualized success to become only the second person to swim from Hong Kong to Macau, it was still a long way to swim from Hong Kong to Macau where boats and ferries jetted across the delta like innumerable shooting stars in the sky.

"There were tough moments - lots of big tankers in the start, and lots of time to contemplate what I was doing, but the jellyfish didn’t appear, and instead, the dolphins did, for over an hour. It was one of the most amazing moments of my life to see them around us for so long, even though I had to keep my head down and kept going.

My team has been amazing - Shu Pu has worked tirelessly to make this swim happen and was with me all the way on her outrigger canoe. She becomes the first single paddler to get across. I also want to thank [retired Hong Kong Water police officer Robert] Arni Highfield for navigating so expertly through challenging waters. And to the rest of the crew - thanks so much for their tireless support. This wouldn't have happened without them."

Holliday began his swim at 5 am from Peaked Hill (Kai Yet Kok), on the west edge of Lantau Island, Hong Kong and swam 35 km to Hac Sa Beach in Macau, arriving at 3:40 pm. The swim has raised over HK$250,000 to help support Grate Art (see video here) which brings 8 local and Chinese artists to create plaques used to remind people not to dump into drains on the street, as these sometimes flow into the ocean.

Asked the first thing he was going to do after emerging from the water, the management and leadership trainer for an international law firm smiled broadly, "I am going to have a pint of beer in a glass."

"Holliday helped raise awareness of the harmful effect of releasing plastics into the ocean," explained Woodring. "During the swim, a visual audit was undertaken from the support vessel, giving an indication of the amount of plastic in the Pearl River Estuary and South China Sea."

Holliday is an open water swimmer based in Hong Kong. Simon completed the English Channel in 2011 as well as several long swims around the UK and Ireland. He is studying a Masters degree in psychology and has an interest in human motivation and resilience - which he obviously tested and put to good use today.

Ocean Recovery Alliance brings together new ways of thinking, technologies, creativity and collaborations in order to introduce innovative projects and initiatives that help to improve our ocean environment. It has two projects with the Clinton Global Initiative focused on the reduction of plastic pollution, and is one of the few NGOs in the world to be working with both the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the World Bank’s Global Partnership for Oceans. It also organises Kids Ocean Day in Hong Kong, Hong Kong-San Francisco International Ocean Film Festival (May 6-11, 2014), and the international business forum, Plasticity, on the future of plastic, where is can be used, without the footprint.

Grate Art is a project that brings colourful, interesting messages to the city streets of Hong Kong, near storm drains, in order to remind people not do dump or litter in drains. The art will feature bilingual messages that goes along with the image in order to call attention to the fact that their actions on land, can have impacts on our local waters. This project will help to showcase Hong Kong as a leader Asia for improving the health of the ocean, complementing the recent ban on trawling last year in all of Hong Kong’s waters.

To donate to the Grate Art cause, visit here.

Photos of the Clean Cross Swim are courtesy of Ocean Recovery Alliance, Power of Sports Images, and Anthony Kwan. Photos of Simon Holliday with the dolphins are courtesy of Jeffrey Lim.

Videos of Holliday on his way from Hong Kong to Macau are posted below:

video 1
video 2
video 3
video 4
Video 5
Video 6
Video 7 (aerial view)
Video 8
Video 9
Video 10 (Walkerized with white dolphins)
Video 11 (heavily Walkerized with white dolphins)

Copyright © 2014 by World Open Water Swimming Association

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