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(8/18/2007) Monte Monfore, the Bali-based record breaking long distance swimmer has tallied another world mark in his efforts to raise awareness of child hunger. As part of an effort by than 760,000 people in 118 countries held on Sunday, May 21, 2006 who "walked" as part of the United Nation's World Food Program to raise awareness of hungry children, the 45 year-old swimmer accepted an invitation by the U.N. to undertake an early morning double-crossing of the swift-flowing Bali Straits separating Bali and Java.
A native of California who now calls Bali home, Monte began his swim from Bali to Java in the dark of the early morning at 4:45 a.m.. Before entering the dark ocean waters off Bali's northwestern coast, Monte spoke to his group of supporters about world hunger and the goal of the World Food Program to end child hunger by 2015. Wearing a fluorescent light stick attached to his swimming suit to enable support boats and camera crew to keep track of the intrepid athlete in the pre-dawn darkness, Monte encountered swirling waters and choppy seas disrupting his steady pattern of strokes. Despite adverse conditions, Monte succeeded in setting a new single-crossing world record of 29 minutes 30 seconds, just eight seconds under his previous record set in February 2005.
On Monte's return swim to Bali he encountered condition that were increasingly arduous. Conditions worsened as the sun rose and the early morning winds increased. Battling strong seas and treacherous whirlpools, the swimmer suffered jellyfish stings and dodged local boat traffic as currents pulled him away from his destination and to the south, into the wider part of the channel. After a one-hour and 24-minute second-crossing Monte managed to touch the shore of Bali just north of Gilimanuk Bay.
The boatmen following his progress estimated he swam more then 8 kilometers against a strong current most of the way. "This was the most difficult swim I've ever done," he said. "One high note, at one of the worst parts of the swim, was seeing a beautiful, medium sized manta ray observing me from a few meters below. It was fantastic!" the ocean lover exclaimed.
The Bali Strait is roughly 3 kilometers at its narrowest point, measuring six kilometers between Gilimanuk and Ketapang harbors. During the double-crossing Monte strictly adhered to the three basic rules of ocean swimming, namely: no fins, no wetsuit, and no physical contact with the boat. The endurance athlete swims over a million meters a year (80-120 kilometers a month), training in pools and the ocean in Bali, California, and elsewhere.
A Man Who Loves Bali Dearly
Canceling a planned trip to Sulawesi to undertake his historic Bali swim, Monte explained his motivation for making the latest crossing between Bali and Java, saying: "Obviously I was very pleased. I was told I could do my swim in Sulawesi, but I stayed in Bali hoping to generate international media exposure for the island. I love Bali and plan to spend the rest of my life here so promoting this beautiful island and the wonderful Balinese is one of my priorities. I encourage people from around the world to visit this magical place."
Worried About the State of the World's Oceans
Appropriate to a man who spends much of his time below sea level, Monte’s concern for child hunger shares center stage with his concern for ocean conservation. Explains Monte: "More than 10% of the world’s reefs have been destroyed. At the present rate of destruction nearly 50% will be destroyed within 20 or 30 years. Three-quarters of the earth is covered in water. Awareness and diligence are necessary to protect this most vital ecosystem on the planet. It's our responsibility to safeguard the ocean for future generations.”
Monte’s swim, which was sponsored by TNT and the Bali Tourism Board (BTB).
What's Next for Monte?
Monte's next channel crossing is set for September when he'll attempt to break his own world record set in 2003 when he swam the dangerous 17-kilometer Badung Strait between Nusa Penida Island and Bali. Sponsored by the Bali Tourism Board and Bali Hotels Association, the Bali Swim for Peace targets to attract visitors from around the world to the resort island.
Related Story: [The Full Monte]
More information: http://www.fighthunger.org