Harbor race attracts 1,800

AFP, HONG KONG

Mon, Oct 22, 2012 - Page 19

About 1,800 swimmers braved Hong Kong’s choppy waters yesterday to compete in the challenging annual harbor race across one of the world’s most famous and busiest waterways.

Swimming enthusiasts from the ages of 12 to 78 took part in the 1.5km Victoria Harbour race, which returned last year after a 33-year suspension.

Swimmers dashed between the eastern points of the Kowloon Peninsula and Hong Kong Island against a stunning backdrop of towering skyscrapers and sharp peaks, replacing the normal harbor traffic of ferries and cargo boats.

The winner of last year’s event, 19-year-old Ling Tin-yu, repeated his success with a winning time of 16 minutes, 57 seconds.

“For over 70 years, the cross-harbor races served as one of Hong Kong’s most celebrated events,” said the organizers, Hong Kong Amateur Swimming Association (HKASA).

“The harbor race is indeed the city’s most iconic sporting event,” the HKASA added, pointing out that the response this year was “overwhelming.”

The annual race, which was revived last year because of popular demand, is a tradition which attracted hundreds of swimmers and thousands of spectators, dating back to 1906.

The event was halted in 1978 because of a deterioration in water quality, but HKASA said they did not receive any complaints about pollution from the 1,000 competitors in last year’s race.

“We have been monitoring closely the water quality based on latest information supplied by the Environmental Protection Department,” it said.

Organizers added that the route was cleaned before the competition started.