Wed, Aug 15, 2007 - Page 2 News List

Team still planning to swim Strait

DETERMINED Swimmer Wang Han and his team plan to take the plunge tomorrow, he said, adding that the most challenging part is the Strait's rough seas

By Shelley Shan  /  STAFF REPORTER

Reports of an approaching typhoon did not seem to daunt Taiwanese long-distance swimmer Wang Han (王瀚), who said yesterday that he and his team were determined to begin swimming across the Taiwan Strait tomorrow as planned.

Wang added, however, that he would continue to monitor weather reports today and might consider postponing the swim a day, depending on the situation. The event may possibly be postponed for a week if the situation gets worse.

"But we are confident that the plan will go on as scheduled," he said.

The team consists of 32 members, that include 16 Taiwanese swimmers, 12 from China and four from South Africa.

The team is scheduled to start from Tamsui's Fishermen's Wharf tomorrow.

The team will swin day and night for four days. The swimmers are expected to arrive in Matsu next Tuesday if everything proceeds smoothly.

If the team fails to achieve its goal, it plans to try again next month.

The announcement was made yesterday at a press conference attended by the swimmers and Taiwanese track and field star Chi Cheng (紀政).

Chi has been a strong supporter of Wang's endeavors since Wang swam across the Strait of Gibraltar in 1986. Since then, Wang has successfully swum across 12 straits around the world.

"He [Wang] is a true hero; he risks his life in order to achieve his goal," she said.

The 32 swimmers come from all walks of life, including chefs, stock brokers and students.

Salina Chen (陳培溫), who turns 16 this year, is the youngest participant on the team. She just got accepted to Nangang Senior High School.

"I saw the news on TV in April and thought it would be fun," she told the Taipei Times. "And I decided to register for the event immediately afterward."

After passing a physical exam in May, Chen went through three months of rigorous training.

Chen recalled being stung by jellyfish during training and was asked to swim from the coast of Keelung County to Keelung Islet (基隆嶼), a small island that is located along the northern shore of Taiwan.

"Sometimes I was so exhausted that I thought about quitting," she said. "But I can say that I have been a part of a great challenge if I manage to pull this off."

Wang said the young swimmers did not receive any special treatment during training.

Besides the physical training, swimmers were also taught to understand the ocean, the currents and how to protect themselves from sharks.

He added that the most challenging part of the swim was the Taiwan Strait's choppy seas.

"The best time to swim is when both the southwest front and the seasonal wind from the northwest subside," he said.

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