Early on the morning of May 10, 2007, Bali-based American ocean swimmer Monte Monfore achieved another world's first swimming from Lombok to Gili Trawangan. His 7-kilometer, Lombok Fight Hunger Swim was the latest installment in his series of the World Food Program Global Walk the World Event to assist hungry school children throughout the world.
The 46-year-old athlete began his swim at Malimbu Beach in northwest Lombok, still in predawn darkness at 5:45 a.m.. Before entering the water, he addressed the large number of press and supporters gathered on the beach about the goals of the World Food Program and the United Nations Millennium Campaign to end child hunger by 2015.
Monte, who lives on Bali, said: "This swim is to give a voice to the world's hungry, especially hungry children. I'm beginning in darkness to symbolize that many people are 'in the dark' about world hunger. I'll finish after sunrise to represent the hope and optimism that child hunger can be overcome."
He then entered the black ocean water under the moon and stars, dedicating his swim to his recently deceased Mother, Carol Monfore.
Nature Offers Strong Resistance
With a fluorescent light stick attached to his swimsuit to enable supporters and the media in follow boats to track his progress, Monte entered the ocean in calm and placid waters which quickly changed to strong opposing currents just one kilometer from shore. So intense were the currents in the legendary treacherous waters between Bali and Lombok that the powerful swimmer had trouble breaking free and was, at times, drawn back towards his starting point by the grudging undertow of the water.
Monte later explained: "I've had some difficult swims before, but this was the toughest by far. There were times I didn't think I was going to make it. I'm extremely thankful to support crew and the media for continuously cheering me on. I feel very fortunate the conditions were calm. Had there been wind and chop, I would have never made it."
As he approached Gili Trawangan, Monte encountered more rushing currents, seemingly determined to deny him his record swim. Summoning a final burst of energy, Monte swam at full pace to break the channel's grip. At 7:55 a.m., after two hours and 10 minutes fighting the strong currents, the swimmer stepped onto the shore at Hotel Villa Ombak, one of the event's sponsors. Exhausted, but nonetheless elated, he was cheered ashore by a crowd of more than 50 locals and tourists.
A Message Worth Repeating
Following the swim, Monte spoke to the media. Determined to repeat his humanitarian message at every opportunity, Monte reminded everyone of his serious mission to feed hungry children. Underlining the urgency of his message, he told of how every 5 seconds a child dies because of lack of food. Or, as he reminded the assembled press and fans, in the 2.5 hours he spent swimming the Straits of Lombok roughly 2,000 children had died of hunger to which another 6,000 children could be added who died while we were all sleeping in our beds the night before.
Monte said that for only US$ 0.19 a day children can be provided nutritious meals with the World Food Global School Feeding Program. Or, in other words, $US34 will feed a child for an entire school year.
Three days prior to his latest epic swim Monte fell ill, becoming nauseous and suffering a high fever. Originally scheduled as a 13-kilometer swim, he refused to cancel the event but, instead, halved the distance to 7 kilometers.
Every 15 minutes during his swim Monte stopped for 10-20 seconds to consume energy drinks. Adhering strictly to the international rules for ocean swimming he undertakes each crossing with no fins, no wetsuit, and never makes direct physical contact with the support boat while in the water. On his May 10th swim Monte suffered numerous painful jellyfish stings.
The Lombok Fight Hunger Swim follows Monte's May 2006 Bali Fight Hunger Swim, where he performed a double-crossing of the 4-kilometer Bali Strait.
What's Ahead for Monte?
Continuing his series of endurance swims in support of the United Nations Millennium Campaign, later this year the humanitarian swimmer plans an Environmental Sustainability/Anti-Global Warming Swim, and an HIV/AIDS Awareness Swim supporting the Bali Community Cares organization for children of HIV/AIDS patients.
Monte on Video
For more information on Monte Monfore and his historic swims or to see video footage of him in action visit [Monte Monfore Website]
[High Altitude Swim for Peace in Lake Batur]
[Monte Sets Records and Fights Child Hunger]
[The Full Monte]
Photographs of Monte Monfore's latest swim were kindly provided by Erik Wijaya.
Click Images to Enlarge
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