The final swim of the Samoa Swim Series 2016 has been swum and enjoyed.
The final act of the extended series was this morning’s 2.5km swim from Le Lagoto Resort at Fagamalo to Jane’s Bar in Manase. That too was a magnificent swim. It was the ninth swim of the extended series that was the Pacific Open Water Challenge (2 swims, 15kms), Samoa Swim Series (3 swims, 12kms) and Savaii Excursion (3 swims, 7kms). Total distance swum is 34kms in nine swims at eight different locations. Nowhere else in our hemisphere can you hold
Through the picturesque underwater seascape of the Fagamalo lagoon and into the deep blue of the Bay itself and then transferring to the azure blue of the Manase lagoon. The swim from behind the reef through the channel is something else.
Escaping the deep blue of the Bay through the small channel in front of Jane’s in heaving surf is something to experience. You are behind the breaking surf of the reef, which is on both sides of the small channel. It gives a feeling of wildness. The gleaming beach is within reach, you can see it 200m away. But the channel entry is in between, to be negotiated carefully.
This is the fun part. Exhilarating if you are not familiar with heaving surf behind wild pounding surf on a sharp coral reef. The momentum stops here too, as the backwash keeps you at bay from entering the channel to the finish. But all is safe. I am on the kayak directing the traffic with a very loud voice and waving arms. There is a marker buoy at the channel entry.
“Keep the buoy well to your right.”
“Do not go anywhere near the buoy, just keep it to your right, and you will be right!”
“Follow the blue cap, she has it right.”
All these instructions are for the blind. Everyone is facedown looking at the bottom of the ocean, momentarily glancing up to see where they are going. Or not going as the backwash continue to halt momentum.
Then there is a push from behind from an approaching wave. In an instant, swimmers are over the reef. The feeling of achievement is the talk on the beach. That was a great swim!
The same story can be told about the nine swims of the extended Series. The Falefa Falls swim with the turnaround marker at the bottom of the falls a feature of that swim. The Sinalei Resort swim and the clarity of water and the lagoon from Mulivai to Sinalei is also a favourite. Oh, and the turtles.
There have been more turtle sightings in this Series than ever before. The most important feature of it all is the group of swimmers from overseas that have travelled to Samoa to engage with our seascape in the context of the variety of swims. It is about the people. They are in awe of it all.
Weary but satisfied and a lot of personal achievements in this group.
None more so than Supa Sid, our eighty-six year old legend from Mt Maunagnui. He sits in the water in this picture after swimming from Le Lagoto Resort to Jane’s Bar. It is his swim in six days. Each a challenge to mere mortals. Sid, though slow, is sure of his target. He gets there. His is just one story, but worthy of a mention here.
Judy Hooper from Timaru has achieved a lot too. She is in the frame, standing fourth from the left. She has swum the three swims of the Samoa Swim Series, and the three swims of the Savaii excursion. Though a swim coach in her native Timaru, the seas of Samoa is a different proposition. Judy travelled here with her sister Marjorie Cook of Wanaka.
Both have had a great time and both are looking to return with more friends to compete in the SSS in the future.
That was another feature of this year’s series. Many folks returning again, and again with six swimmers receiving their green caps. A green swim cap is presented to swimmers on their fourth SSS visit.
There is not a series anywhere that has the mix of swims SSS has to offer. Nine great swims in nine days, in eight fantastic locations. There is nowhere else you can do this but here in Samoa.
The 2016 series is another big success.