Cambodia’s aquatic fanatics will take the plunge on Sunday as iCAN British International School holds the 18th annual Mekong River Swim.
Swimmers will attempt to complete the roughly 700-metre crossing in the fastest time, with timed legs setting off from the Prek Leap Agricultural College between 8am and 11am.
One hundred male and 37 female participants had registered for the competition as of yesterday, race organisers said, with the swimmers coming from 18 countries: Cambodia, the US, the UK, Australia, Canada, France, Finland, Germany, Indonesia, Ireland, Netherlands, New Zealand, Peru, South Korea, Spain, Switzerland, Sweden and Turkey.
Building on the success of last year’s introduction of split starts, there will be two racing categories – the competitive class for those aiming to record a time of less than 15 minutes and a recreational class.
Swimmers could choose to compete individually or in teams of four, for which combined time totals will be tabulated. Prizes will be awarded to the top three finishers for seniors and U18s as well as for teams.
For the first time, the Cambodian Mine Action Centre (CMAC), the Kingdom’s leading demining organisation, is entering a team of eight locals who are training to be marine deminers.
Sponsors this year include International SOS, The Shop, DKSH, K’nyay, Luna, Snow Yogurt and Mama Wongs.
In response to concerns raised about the safety of the event and the quality of the river water, organisers have noted that in the race’s 18 years not a single illness has been reported as a result of participation.
Before and during the day, comprehensive safety systems will be in place, including the prevention of all boats not involved in the event from coming through the area. Ten long tail safety boats will be positioned on the water near swimmers, replete with experienced water safety volunteers and equipment to collect anyone who feels unable to complete the swim.
A doctor and a paramedic from International SOS and a fully staffed CMAC safety boat will also be on hand to provide extra support.
All proceeds from the event go towards water safety programs run by a local NGO in Battambang.