Swim for Haiti 2018

Last Saturday I took off for Port-au-Prince, Haiti for the second time in the last 12 months. Swimming surely gets you to places you could not have imagined. Five years ago, American entrepreneur Jim Chu and 3 friends of his thought they would swim from an island 10 kilometers off Wahoo Bay Beach in the West Province, back to the shore – and so the Swim for Haiti was born. 

The event has now grown to 100+ swimmers in two races (1.5K and 10K) and is offered in partnership with swimming holiday consultants Swim Trek and with Canadian-born circuit Global Swim Series. Despite the still evident poor state of the country, Wahoo Bay Beach is a nice resort that enjoys calm and warm waters for their guests, a perfect spot for a swimming vacation – or competition. 

The 10K race was my first test in a year that will not be short of adventures and challenges. I had won the 2017 edition with a slow 2h56’, when I was still starting my training (after a break of 15 years!) and with about 5 feeding stops, so I knew I could do much better this year. And so did I – I left the Arcadins Islands at 7.36am to never stop until I reached the shore 2h28’ later at 10.04am. I never felt tired or thirsty, despite the 30C air and 25C water temperature approx., and the stroke pace was pretty constant. Some jellyfishes tried to get into my way but I’ve learned that that comes with the sport, so they didn’t stop me. My goal is to keep this pace and strength during the 25K Port To Pub Australian ultramarathon in March.

Winner of 2017 and 2018 editions

A thing I noticed was the increase in plastic waste though – I encountered at least three patches of human-created rubbish, and there was a bag that wrapped me and almost hid me from my smiley bwa fouye paddler. I don’t remember this much waste from last year, and it is exactly what I am trying to fight against, along my friends at Ocean Recovery Alliance. Please do chip in for my fundraising cause here

Swimming in the open waters in the Caribbean Sea is very pleasant, no doubt. But beyond the settings and the chance of meeting locals, I love the vibe among international visitors – interesting, sociable and mature people that enjoy the sports and the healthy competition, coming mainly from the UK, US and Canada.

The return to freezing New York has been harsh, with the runs outside, increasingly-long cold showers and dips into the beach. The US Winter Nationals are coming up in just 10 days, and they are only the start of the cold swims I will be facing in Cape Town, Lake Titicaca, and eventually, Antarctica.

Nobody said it was going to be easy. Stay tuned.