Filipino swimmer to cross English Channel
by rick olivares
Since 1875, there have been 2005 successful swims (1,340 solo swimmers and 665 relay teams) cross the English Channel that connects the United Kingdom and France.
This coming August, Ingemar Macarine, under the banner of the First Filipino English Channel Swim Team (FFECST) will be the first Filipino to attempt to cross the 21-mile long channel from Dover, England and northern France and to join the hallowed ranks of those who successfully attempted the feat.
The swim is considered the “Mount Everest” of open water swims and will be a test of physical and mental strength and courage. There have been thousands of failures and eight listed deaths.
The First Filipino English Channel Swim Team (FFECST) is captained by Macarine, who is known as the “Pinoy Aquaman” and is scheduled to attempt the crossing—a distance of 35 kilometers in the icy waters of the North Atlantic—in mid-August. Official open water rules require swimmers to attempt the challenge clad in nothing more than ordinary swimming trunks, swim cap, and goggles. Georgian Honorary Consul Thelmo Cunanan Jr., who founded the First Filipino International Movement in 2014, said the objective of the swim is to celebrate international friendship and to raise awareness of climate change and global warming— core advocacies of the First Filipino International Movement.
The 40-year old Macarine who hails from Bohol, who is a practicing lawyer, has made a name for himself from his swims across the Surigao Strait and from Alcatraz Island to San Francisco to name a very few. The Surigao del Norte native says he “swims through difficult waters not to call attention to himself but to raise awareness for clean seas, environmental toursim, and great climate change awareness."
The objective of the First Filipino International Movement (FFIM) is to organize and support historic achievements and landmark accomplishments by Filipinos all over the world. The organization’s kick-off event took place in South Africa in February 2014, when two of its swimmers, braving the threat of great white sharks and the cold waters of the South Atlantic, became the first Filipinos to cross the Robben Island channel to Cape Town. The swim, a distance of five miles and accomplished in under three hours, was done in honor of the late Nelson Mandela and to thank South Africans for their help in Leyte in the aftermath of the devastating Typhoon Haiyan (Yolanda).
Since then, the FFIM has carried out other projects, particularly in the area of heritage and culture, the most recent of which was a three-city European art roadshow (November and December 2015) to promote climate change awareness.
For Macarine’s channel swim, Cunanan expects the Macarine to achieve the feat in approximately 13 - 15 hours, given fair weather conditions and currents.
FFECST and Macarine has already been training for this challenge, with plenty of regular open water swims for Macarine all over the country and multiple sessions in the cold water pool of the Philippine Military Academy in Baguio City. From late June, the team will be based in the seaside city of Folkestone, in the southern United Kingdom, where Macarine will continue cross-training and begin open water trials and temperature acclimatization.