Calm before the storm

By Seti Afoa ,

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Swimmers line up for the warm up swim to Manono Island.

Swimmers line up for the warm up swim to Manono Island.

They are here. The end to the long journey is within sight. Most of the swimmers for the Upolu-Savai’i Swim are holing up at the Airport Lodge in Mulifanua, and will today take to the water to warm up for the big swim tomorrow.

This morning saw most of the swimmers in the water, for the 3.7km swim to Manono Island.  The exceptions were Kate Sinclair who was taking it easy two days out, and Phillip Ryan who was arriving later.

The local swimmers involved in the Upolu-Savai’i Swim in teams, also joined in, in beautiful calm conditions. 

Easily seen was the results of the preparations and hard toil of the last few months.  The swimmers I had seen earlier last year, were now faster and smoother. Longer strides and easy and lazy strokes were the rule of the morning. 

Beautiful glides across the glassy sea, this is the magic of the ocean on this beautiful South Pacific morn. 

The swim started at the Manono Uta wharf, to the pier at the Methodist Hall at Saleu, Manono Tai. 

It was a stroll. A peaceful one. Without effort at all.  It is not going to be like that tomorrow, particularly after six to seven hours in the water. The swimmers’ perfect stride and like technique will be tested, perhaps wobbly, and tired.  But for now, they all enjoyed the baptism of sorts – just to test the water and to get wet, tipping toes in the sea. 

Bronwen Burmester, the oldest swimmer in the fold at 60yrs was a lot faster than I remembered her from two years ago. 

“I really enjoyed that. It was a great swim, perfect and calm.” 

“There was very little current, if at all, only closer to the island there was a bit of cross current to get through, but all good,” she said after the swim while drinking a cool and refreshing coconut at Saleu, Manono. 

Abby Armstrong, was proficient, too much so, she glided on the surface like a ballerina on water.  “That was a lovely swim, good to get used to the water,” she said after while waiting for the rest to catch up.  The outlook for tomorrow is for cloudy weather and perhaps rain. Cloud cover will be good for the day, but it will not be enough to offset the danger rays of the tropical sun. 

Todd Pritchard who is swimming for Melanoma New Zealand, is all too aware of that. He too was all smiles at the end of the Manono Swim. He was there with all his crew, swim captain Rosie Sharman and paddler, Daryl Baker. 

The swimmers will now rest up, some of them took the ferry across to Savaii to view the course. Tomorrow, there is the race briefing for all swimmers, each to be done individually with the Safety crew and the race Directors. 

© Samoa Observer 2016

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