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(6/17/2006) World record ocean swimmer Monte Monfore has done it again! Early in the morning of May 3, 2005, the athlete, who swims, amongst other reasons, to raise awareness of ocean conservation, became the first person ever recorded to swim from Nusa Lembongan Island to Bali, setting a new world record in the process.
Monte began his challenge across the treacherous Badung Strait before sunrise, entering the water at 5:58am at Jimbakbatu in northeast Nusa Lembongan. Aiming for the nearest point on Bali at Kusamba, a distance of 17 kilometers, the swimmer was pulled south by strong currents where he reaching land at Pantai Lebih at 9:02am. Despite winds and choppy seas Monte covered the 17-kilometer distance in 3 hours, 4 minutes.
"I was hoping to break my time of 2 hours 46 minutes from Penida," said the marathon swimmer. In 2003, Monte swam from Nusa Penida (the island adjacent to Nusa Lembongan) breaking the previous world record by 2 minutes. "Given the conditions, however, Iím very satisfied and pleased with the result. I felt strong and very good during the swim. After my failed attempt last March I was very focused and determined this time." Monte's swim attempt from Nusa Lembongon last March had to be stopped after one hour because of increasing wind, chop, and waves. His four other channel crossings attempts have all resulted in world record times.
Swimming for the People of Aceh
When asked why he swims Monte gave two reasons. "I swim for the people of Aceh and to create awareness of ocean protection. One of my goals is to keep the tsunami victims in the news. Over one billion dollars has been pledged, but this story is no longer front-page news. Many people have forgotten about the Acehnese and I'm trying to relay the message that the difficult part has just begun. Peopleís lives were devastated and they are just now beginning to rebuild and start over again. They have a long and difficult road ahead so I'm asking for everyone to please not forget them and to please continue supporting their cause."
"The other reason I swim is because I absolutely love the sea. It's a beautiful and incredible placeÖespecially here in Indonesia. You know, three fourths of the earth's surface is covered with water. Together with the rain forests, the ocean is the most vital ecosystem on the planet. I plan to continue swimming to encourage people to take care of the sea and keep it clean. Itís our responsibility to protect and safeguard the ocean for future generations."
How He Does It
While swimming, once every 15 to 20 minutes, Monte takes a 10-15 second drink break, consuming an energy drink tied to a string and thrown to him from the support vessel. During every channel crossing he is careful to strictly adhere to the three basic rules of ocean swimming: no fins, no wetsuit, and no touching the boat.
Monte, whose interests include classical music, art history, and literature, loves Indonesia and has been to Bali over 20 times. He comes here to swim and surf and "when the waves are big I'm out on my board instead of training." Monte's ocean swimming career began in 1998 when he swam the Bali Straits between Java and Bali in 38 minutes, smashing the previous world record by nearly an hour. The native Californian, who works as a private, free-lance English instructor in Tokyo, Japan, recently broke his own world record when he swam from Bali to Java in 29 minutes while doing a triple crossing of the often dangerous channel as a "training session" earlier this year in February.
Swimming over a million meters a year (80-100 kilometers a month), Monte trains in pools and the ocean in Bali, Tokyo, and California. In Bali, where pool temperatures are often too high for intense training and the sea too choppy from daytime winds, Monte often swims in the ocean at night.
Appearing Soon on Your Local Channel
Asked about future swims Monte replied, ďOn my agenda for the next year is to follow in the wake of the tsunami to raise awareness that the plight of the victims is still ongoing. Iím planning swims in Aceh, Thailand, and possibly the Maldives, Sri Lanka, and India. I will also return to swim another multiple crossing of the Bali Strait as a fundraiser to clean a filthy area of beautiful ocean I recently discovered north of Ketapang Harbor in East Java. Last week someone suggested swimming around Menjangan Island National Park, which offers some of Baliís best diving, but still has areas of filthy ocean, so this sounds like a good prospective clean-up project as well. I'm also looking forward to re-swimming the Badung Strait this fall or next spring. My goal is to break 2 hours, which may be possible if I hit it with perfect conditions someday."