Swimmers brave rough sea in Open Water Swimming Competitions
Rough seas prevailing in the Gozo channel, characterised this year’s editions of the Malta-Gozo-Malta and Gozo-Malta Open Water Swimming Competitions organised by Birkirkara St. Joseph Sports Club on Saturday, 18 August. Swimmers had to battle hard to overcome the large waves especially on reaching the island of Comino, with calmer waters awaiting them as they approached Malta. Out of the 72 swimmers taking part in both races, 15 had to give up, in what was described as one of the most difficult channel races this past decade.
The 11-kilometre Malta-Gozo-Malta race was dominated by French open water swimmer Jacques Tuset, who covered the distance in 3 hours, 13 minutes, 34 seconds. Simon Zammit finished second in 3 hours, 24 minutes and 55 seconds, and Gilbert Bartolo finished third in 3 hours, 29 minutes and 25 seconds.
Open water swimming champion Davina Mangion, was again the first female to finish the 11 kilometres in 3 hours, 21 minutes and 43 seconds, ahead of Marian Belsten who finished in 4 hours, 5 minutes and 5 seconds.
With more than 1,000 metres to go Robert Vella and Wayne Agius clashed head to head, and notwithstanding the rough waters opened a massive sprint towards the finish buoy at Marfa. With vociferous support coming from their respective escort boats, both swimmers matched each other stroke by stroke, both hitting the finish in 1 hour, 36 minutes and 13 seconds, in the most exciting finish ever recorded in the 5.5-kilometre crossing. Richard Zerafa finished third in 1 hour, 41 minute and 13 seconds.
Young swimmer Hannah Pace was the first female to cross the channel in a time of 1 hour, 41 minutes and 19 seconds, confirming the good form she is showing in the open water swimming championships. Gail Sant was second in 1 hour, 59 minutes and 27 seconds, ahead of Nadia Vella who finished in 2 hours, 14 minutes and 27 seconds.
At the end of the races, Mr. J. Caruana Curran, President of the Aquatic Sports Association of Malta, presented the trophies to the winners, and a memento to all the participating swimmers.
Birkirkara St. Joseph Sports Club organised these events under the auspices of the Aquatic Sports Association of Malta and were sponsored by Power Bar. The Club teamed up with Swim Aid in collect funds for charity through these events.