Sun, May 06, 2007 - Page 2 News List

Veteran swimmer plans cross-strait relay

COAST TO COAST Twenty-five swimmers led by Wang Han will launch the first of three rounds between August and October, depending on the weather and prevailing currents

STAFF WRITER, WITH CNA

Veteran team swimmer Wang Han (王瀚) plans to conquer the Taiwan Strait later this year.

The cross-strait swim will be Wang's first attempt in nine years since he and his team swam across the Messina Strait in June 1998.

Between 1986 and 1998, Wang and his team swam across 12 channels or straits around the world.

Wang, 55, said at a news conference that the cross-strait swim will be attempted by swimmers from both sides of the strait in three stages between this August and August 2009.

He lamented that despite economic prosperity, Taiwanese are not familiar with the oceans surrounding their island and that maritime leisure activities have never been popular.

He said he was once asked which channel or strait in the world he considers the most difficult to swim across. After a thoughtful pause he said that the Taiwan Strait poses the biggest challenge.

He saidd that he began to plan the cross-strait swim in September 2005, although concrete action did not start until last month after the cooperating party on the other side of the strait was finally determined -- the Exchanges Department of the Taiwan Affairs Office under China's State Council.

Twenty-five swimmers led by Wang will launch the first round of the swim between August and October this year, depending on the weather and prevailing currents.

The swimmers plan to swim from Tamsui, Taipei County or Nanliao, Hsinchu County to Pingtan in China's Fujian Province in a relay fashion, with each swimmer in the water for one hour.

Wang said that although the shortest distance between Taiwan and Fujian is 170km, it is more like 250km in terms of swimming.

The second round of the swim is scheduled to be launched between next April and May, also departing from Taiwan's Tamsui or Nanliao for Fujian's Pingtan, Wang said.

He said that for the third round, the 25 swimmers will depart from Pingtan for Tamsui or Nanliao, scheduled for between July and August of 2009.

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