Surprised faces on jet skis, dhows and yachts near Al Safliya island were watching when three long-distance swimmers, three supporting kayaks and one stand-up paddler reached the shore of the island on Friday, 23 October.
Carly-Jane Figgis, Bruno Gilbert and Jeroen Brons, members of the Angry Dragons Qatar, put themselves to sea 90 minutes prior from Viva Bahriya beach, no less than 3.2 km away, concluding a journey that started in January when they set themselves for the ‘Al Safliya Swim Challenge’, part of their pledge for Qatar Green Building Council (QGBC) Sustainability Week, which starts on 31 October.
Carly-Jane, the lone female swimmer in the group said they were supposed to do a long swim only as preparation for their crossing to the island the weekend after, to coincide with the start of Sustainability Week. But she said they got so close that they decided to push it all the way across the channel.
Once on the island, the swimmers braced themselves for the swim back to Viva Bahriya at The Pearl-Qatar. They accumulated 6.44 km of open-water swim, a personal best for all of them.
Initially, a 600-metre swim to the bay barrier and back was like reaching the end of the world and would be celebrated with glee, but the regular distances increased to two kilometres and up, and once, even up to five kilometres.
Choppy water, high water temperatures nor an occasional jellyfish, would not shrink the training spirit of the swimmers, who consider long distance open water swimming as a great way to exercise in nature, following a rhythmic cadence of a wide variety of muscles.
On the day itself, Giselle Reis, Ewa Merchel, Abhi Mukherji and Kasia Muniak, Dragon Boaters themselves, supported the swimmers with kayaks and one SUP for safety, carrying water and moral support. Together with the three swimmers, they formed a diverse group made up of six nationalities, a beautiful cultural diversity so typical in Qatar.
The diversity of life was also visible in the salty water, as they encountered little crabs on the shoreline, tropical fishes of various sizes near the rocks and a sea turtle that pulled a funny face on them. A short break on the island also enabled them to enjoy amazing views of the Doha skyline, before returning to the mainland and completing 6.4 km in three hours of swimming and having burnt over 2000 calories.
After a well-deserved tea, the natural question was asked: What is the next swimming challenge for next year’s Sustainability Week?