For international hotel management and tourism student, C. Vahini, swimming across Penang channel was a dream come true.
The 19-year-old lass, like many others, joined the recent 3rd Penang International Cross Channel Swim 2017 competition for fun as she considered herself a normal swimmer.
Vahini learned to swim when she was 10 years old.
Malaysia Outlook was intrigued that Vahini was not inspired or never heard of anyone swimming across the channel.
“I always wanted to swim from Penang to my birthplace Butterworth, “she added.
Her parents S. Chandrasegran and S. Malligah drove her to George Town and drove back to Pantai Bersih in Bagan Ajam on the mainland to wait patiently for her return.
This slim athletic girl is steely in her determination to complete the race even though she was stung by jellyfish at the start of the race.
“I was stung on my feet,” Vahini said but she endured the pain and kept on swimming.
She only thought of completing the swim and kept on going.
Although she did not win a placement, Vahini was very pleased that her college mates turn up in full force to support her and cheer her on.
Her lecturers posted photos of the event and her photos on social media to encourage her and celebrate her determination to succeed.
Youngest competitor among the 322 participants, 13-year-old Gan Jia Hui, clocked 2:35:14 to beat 12 others in the women’s under-40 category.
The teenager braved murky waters, cramps and jellyfish stings to win a gold medal and a trophy.
Gan who swam with a friend kept on going even though her hands were stung twice by jellyfish and suffered body cramps.
China national Miao Chunlei, 38, clocked 2:37:05 and was placed second whilst Singaporean Kok Hui Ping also 38 came in third with a time of 3:08:20.
For the men under-40 category, Spanish swimming coach Jose Luis Larrosa Chorro, 36, and his trainee Tan Rupert, 17, crossed the finish line in 1:36:52 to jointly win the first prize.
First-timer Rupert, a fifth form student of SMJK Katholik in Petaling Jaya did well to preserve even though he was stung three times by jellyfish.
Rupert said he started swimming at 11 and had been actively entering swim meets.
The third prize went to Japan’s Kensuke Shibuya, 39, with a time of 1:46:53.
The Penang Cross Channel Swim is a unique and challenging sports event draws many open water swimmers to it annually as it was considered a bucket list event.
It was last held in 1988 and has been recently revived to promote sports tourism in Penang.
Since 2015, the annual event is being organised by Penang Amateur Swimming Association (PASA) together with the Penang Sports Council and endorsed by the Penang government, following interest shown swimming associations in China.
A swim across the Penang Channel requires logistics, necessary permits and clearance from the port authorities as there are big ships passing through the busy Penang port daily.
The full Cross Channel Swim is a distance of 6.5km from Gurney Drive on the island to Pantai Bersih on the mainland.
It has four categories namely men 40 and below, women 40 and below, men 41 and above and women 41 and above.
Participants report for registration from 5.30am onwards and gear up with open water swim buoy and race swim caps.
Most of the swimmers wore a one-piece wetsuit for protection against the jellyfish sting.