Posted by: Sam Olsen | October 7, 2012

The Clean Half: Good, clean fun!

Yesterday witnessed one of the highlights in the Asian Open Water Swimming calendar; The Clean Half. So-called because it covers the cleaner half of the island, from Stanley Beach round to Deepwater Bay, in relay teams. We assembled on the beach at 8.30, my team of five was called Red-beard’s beauties due to the hair colour of our sole male participant, Gareth.  There was a fair bit of faffing, waiver-signing, t-shirt collecting, and then our starter swimmer (and captain), set off to the beach start point, while the rest of us went to join the scrum to get on a boat. These were a motley assortment of small fishing/waterskiing boats that are rented for the day to accompany us on the 15 km route. You’re lucky to get an English-speaking one, but I had fortunately found myself on a team with two local ladies so language posed no problems for us.

We eventually spotted the starters in the water, so set the clock. After twenty minutes, we’d switch swimmers, but first we had to actually get alongside Cordelia and make sure she’d found us. This was not helped by much confusion over what colour cap she was wearing, but soon enough we pulled up alongside and watched her power through the water. By the third swimmer, we’d completed the first long haul, and reached a large red buoy. On top of this were a sax and trumpet duo, tooting away as the swimmers went past. More fun for us on the boat to listen to, I think the swimmers were oblivious. 

The day wore on, suddenly it was 1pm (we started at 10am), and we had only just about broken the half-way mark. Another appearance from the musicians told us we were on the right track. You’d be amazed at how far the boats had spread out across the water. With a slightly sinking feeling, we watched our pal Stuart from the HKFC speed past one of our swimmers in the water, realising that Stuart’s team had started a full hour after we had!! 

Finally, the beach at Deepwater bay, and the bar and BBQ, came into sight. But Red Beard’s Beauties, and Red Beard himself, were tiring. We were meant to be doing 10-minute stints at this point, but looking at one of the girls in the water we decided to be a bit more strategic. The other HKFC mixed team were only feet away from us. We effected a quick change, and I leapt in to relieve my team-mate. It was exhausting, I didn’t appear to be moving anywhere! The next candidate was meant to finish, but even she soon waned, and we had to make two more changes before Gareth made it to the beach.  It had taken us almost five and a half hours, but we held our lead over the other mixed team! 

A well-deserved beer and a nice barbecue awaited. I was unable to move for the rest of the evening and slept the sleep of an exhausted pirate. 

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