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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Record splash at river swim

Record splash at river swim

Some of the 150 participants who completed a swim across the Mekong River receive certificates following the event yesterday in Phnom Penh.

The top ten
1. Xavier Riblet - 8 mins 24 secs
2. Alan Kourie - 9.36
3. Ben Wallace - 9.37
4. Trevor Piper - 9.57
5. Barry Schipper -10.00
6. George Jefferies - 10.03
7. Jean-Pierre De Mamgemie -10.07
8. Rebecca Green - 10.07     9. Marion Maitre - 10.18
10. E Turnbull-Brown - 10.22

More than 150 competitors braved sand, silt and giant catfish to compete in the capital’s Mekong River Swim yesterday morning, with the highest number of entrants in the 15-year history of the event.

David Hunt, vice-principal at iCAN British International School, said yesterday that 163 competitors entered the event, compared with 130 at the previous race in 2009.

“Two years ago, people [came] out and just decided to rock up and swim across the river,” said Hunt.

“We had everyone register beforehand, [to encourage them to] train and practice.”

Competitors must swim about 650 to 800 metres (depending on the strength of the current) one way across the Mekong River, starting from Prek Leap Agricultural College about six kilometres north of Phnom Penh.

Xavier Riblet, yesterday’s winner with a time of 8 minutes and 24 seconds, has won the race in previous years and holds the record for the fastest swim at the current site, set at 7 minutes and 34 seconds.

Alan Kourie came second with a time of 9 minutes and 36 seconds and the third place prize went to Ben Wallace with a time of 9 minutes and 37 seconds.

Hunt said that few injuries were recorded and iCAN had been in contact with the Mekong River Commission in order to monitor river conditions.

“There was one gentleman who we had to rescue and he had to receive treatment from a paramedic because he had trouble with his breathing.... and a few others,” said Hunt. “The winner, [Xavier Riblet],
actually got into the current and was swimming toward a different direction. The ... pack were keen to follow him so they went in the wrong direction too.”

The proceeds from entry fees to the MRS will go towards the rebuilding of a primary school in Ofunato, a town in Japan’s Iwate prefecture that was severely damaged by the tsunami that devastated Japan last month.

Adele Peers, a maths teacher at iCAN and first-time participant in the swim, said that she had not swum in years before hitting the pool to train for the event.

“There was a current, but they had lots of safety measures in place so they made sure that everyone was well looked after and made it to the other side,” said Peers.



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