More than 3,300 people took part in Hong Kong’s cross-harbor swimming race over the weekend, taking the plunge bravely despite strong winds and choppy seas.
The New World Harbour Race saw a total of 3,358 swimmers participating in the event Sunday morning, a significant jump compared to last year when a little more than 2,940 people joined the race.
The annual race, which was organized by the Hong Kong Amateur Swimming Association with title sponsorship from New World Development, was in its eighth edition after it was revived in 2011.
After Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor, together with New World Development executive vice-chairman and general manager Adrian Cheng Chi-kong and other guests, sounded the starting horn with a pistol shot at 8 am, 550 swimmers who signed up for the racing groups took the lead and jumped into the water from the Tsim Sha Tsui Public Pier before the rest followed them.
Like last year’s race, the one-kilometer route ended at the Wan Chai Golden Bauhinia Square Public Pier.
Some participating swimmers admitted the race was tougher than last year because of the rougher sea that featured high winds and big waves.
The oldest among the participants was Mabel Leung Yuen-ying, 76, who joined the race for the sixth time, while the youngest was a 12-year-old girl, who claimed that the waves were so strong that they made her deviate from her direction.
A 15-year-old swimmer from the youth category said the water quality of the harbor was good with the route having less floating garbage than that of the old route, therefore he felt quite good swimming in it.
However, he complained that there were too many participants. Given the overcrowding, the organizer should let swimmers enter the water in different order by groups, the teen suggested.
Organizing committee chairman David Chiu Chin-hung said after the event that around 80 people had drifted off course due to currents and had to be picked up by safety boats.
Some 20 suffered injuries during the race but did not need to be sent to hospital, Chiu added.
RTHK reported that a 19-year-old teen named Cho Cheng-chi, a Taiwan swimming team member who joined the Hong Kong event for the first time, won the men’s race in the international category this year, while a colleague named Wang Yi-chen won the women’s international category.
They each pocketed US$2,000 in prize money.
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