There he was – looking at a portrait of Royal Varuna Yacht Club member and British swimmer Malcolm Humphreys who, earlier in 2012, had become the first hero to swim the Gulf between Royal Varuna Yacht Club and the eastern shore of Koh Larn.
“So”, thought Andre Axelrod, the Swiss mountaineer and fellow – club member, “I think I should do this also!”
It was not long before a monitoring team, composed of Martine (Axelrod) and Royal Varuna committee man – and a world champion sailor – Gareth Owen, mounted the escort craft as Andre hit the water to start his swim.
Andre prepares for his marathon swim.
“It was unbelievable”, said Andre, after his tremendous effort. “At times, the pollution in the water was so bad, I thought I would have to turn back to the Pattaya shore”, he said sadly. Then, being a man of great erudition – though no religious affiliation – he smiled, adding, “I think I know where Jesus learned to ‘walk on the water’, it must have been Pattaya where one could almost walk the odd nine kilometers to Koh Larn, across the pollution.”
But, back to the story: This very athletic tee-totaller, swam on … and on, reaching the Loh larn shore in two hours and forty-nine minutes. His time was exactly 10 minutes less than Malcolm’s a few months before.
There is a nice mathematical equation here: Andre is 10 years younger than Malcolm and his cross-Gulf time was 10 minutes less. So, it could be surmised that Malcolm lost one minute a year in the elapsed time.
Andre came back to the Royal Varuna Club in the accompanying tender, to an enthusiastic welcome for the new champ, even greetings from the former title-holder, now in the UK.
I looked at a recent page in the Bangkok Post noticing an article about an Australian swimmer who will attempt the 170-km crossing from Havana, Cuba to Florida, USA. Ms. Chloe McCardel, a 27-year-old Aussie lady who has swum the Channel between England and France twice before. They breed them tough Down Under!
I have passed on this article to Andre who, right now, is extremely busy mountain climbing and skiing in the Swiss Alps. I think I know his response to trying to conquer either of these stretches of water…!
Meantime, back at the Royal Varuna Yacht Club, there is some murmuring about inaugurating an annual trans–Gulf race where the club members would plunge like lemmings – and like that breed, too, only the toughest and fittest would beach on Koh Larn.
But, it must be realized, that this murmuring was around the very lively Varuna sea-front bar.
Happy New Year 2013, to all – swimmers AND drinkers, alike!
The style of a champion.
Success – a new record time.