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(10/30/2006) On October 16, 2006, Bali-based world-record ocean swimmer Monte Monfore made the first-ever-recorded swim across Bali's holy Lake Batur. "The Bali Swim for Peace and Against Poverty" was held in support of two major events: Dewa Sraya - a Bali Hindu ceremony conducted at Pura Tuluk Biyu Temple overlooking the mountain lake, and the United Nations Stand Up Campaign.
The epic swim, in Bali's mountain-lake district, crossed the crater lake of Batur situated at a height of 1,050 meters above sea level, a site considered sacred by the Balinese. After first seeking formal permission to conduct the swim, the 45-year-old Californian received a blessing from a Hindu priest at the lakeside Pura Jati temple.
Monte's swim connected the two holiest locations on the lake: the isolated village of Trunyan nestled under the eastern rim of the crater wall, and Toyabungkah at the foot of Mount Batur - a still active volcano. In a pre-swim announcement the endurance athlete dedicated his swim to "the beautiful Balinese people."
United Nation's Stand Up Campaign
Part of Monfore's continuing series of endurance swims in support of the United Nation's Stand Up Campaign, the American joined more than 23 million people worldwide and more than 300,000 in Indonesia who undertook community-based rallies and activities on October 15 and 16, 2006 as part of the UN's Millennium Development Goals.
The official goals of the campaign are:
Eradicate extreme poverty and hunger
Achieve universal primary education
Promote gender equality and empower women
Reduce child mortality
Improve maternal health
Combat HIV/AID, malaria and other diseases
Ensure environmental sustainability
Develop a global partnership for development
Monte and Ketut Putranata, a local community leader, recited the Stand Up Pledge together with 30 children and ten adults. The swimmer and participants - from boatmen and children to gamelan musicians and priests, all wore white wrist bands as a symbol of their shared commitment to the Global Call to Action Against Poverty.
Entering the water at 3:40 p.m. the swimmer was accompanied by a small boat decorated with Balinese ceremonial offerings and carrying local Hindu priests, community leaders, and a gamelan bronze-gong orchestra which performed continuously throughout the swim. Fighting high winds and the frigid mountain water Monte made the three kilometer crossing in just under one hour (58 minutes 25 seconds).
The crossing took place just prior to the conclusion of the nineteen-day Dewa Sraya Purification Ritual at Pura Tuluk Biyu Temple in Kintamani. Held only once every five years, the Dewa Sraya Ceremony this year attracted thousands of devotees from across the island, who prayed for the restoration of balance and harmony in Bali and the entire world.
In Love with his Adopted Home
Speaking after the epic swim, Monte waxed eloquently on the many virtues of his adopted home, saying: "Bali is no longer only a place of transience for surfers and holiday makers. It has evolved into a place of substance. More than 20,000 foreigners live here. Many, like me, are planting roots and intending to spend the rest of their lives on the Island of the Gods."
Urging the world to continue to visit its favorite island, Monte added: "Bali is one of the most spectacular places on the planet. It has one of the richest cultures and most beautiful people in the world. This place is a tropical paradise with incredible scenery, fantastic beaches, and great surf. There's a reason readers of international travel magazines continually vote Bali the most beautiful island in the world and I encourage everyone to visit this magical place."
A Bali resident since 2004, the marathon swimmer holds numerous channel crossing records throughout the region. The Batur swim was Monfore's third UN-related event in six months. Earlier this year he participated in two World Food Program efforts. In May, as part of the worldwide Walk the World/Fight Hunger Campaign, the athlete swam a double crossing of the four-kilometer Bali Strait. In June, following the devastating earthquake in central Java, Monfores 12.5-kilometer Yogyakarta Earthquake Relief Swim raised awareness and support for victims and publicized WFP emergency relief efforts.
[Monte Sets Record and Fights Child Hunger]
[The Full Monte]