Swimmers ready to tackle Apolima Strait

Six solo swimmers and three teams will head out to the rough waters that is the Apolima Strait. 

Local Samoan swimmer, sixteen year old Stivi So’omalelagi will be the youngest solo swimmer to take on the challenge to date.

Stivi swims for Suzie Schuster’s Club and told the Samoa Observer he loves to swim for “for fitness and  fun.”

He credits his dad’s adventurous spirit that he has inherited to help him take up the challenge. 

“My dad loves going on adventures and that’s where I started learning how to swim and then I joined the swim club with Suzie Schuster. Then I started swimming competitively.”

Although Stivi is young, he is in experienced hands. He will be captained by veteran Swimmer Mailata Iosia Leau who conquered the Apolima Strait in 1988.  

Each of the swimmers have incredible  journeys and reasons why they are competing today.

Like 56-year-old, Robin Rose, who is a cancer survivor.  

And Tiffany McQueen, who fashioned a 6x10 “pool” in her garage in the middle America’s freezing winter to help her train for this event. 

Also, the youngest team in the line up, Team Tonga have overcome a great amount of obstacles to be here today.  The most paramount would be operating a swim club without a proper pool.  

Team Manager, Vila Day told the Samoa Observer, “We have them go to the pool five times a week. Its a hotel pool because we don’t have a real pool in Tonga so we have to use what we got. We also go in to the open water.”

She said competing in today’s race will also provide a great opportunity to develop their swimmers, for whom, many have never been to Samoa before.  She said, “This is the first time that most have them to be here in Samoa. 

It’s a once in a lifetime type of thing. Its about building character and team bonding and building relationships. We found that when we came for the Samoa swim series.

As well as back home, swimming this kind of distance is unreal and something people wouldn’t even fathom.  Even when people heard about them coming to do this, they were like, they're doing what?

“But at the same time, it’s done a lot to help put swimming in the forefront in Tonga and also to teach other kids not to be afraid of the ocean.  We live on an island, but there’s a lot of fear for kids.” 

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