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3, 000 swim across Pearl River in Guangzhou
Latest Updated at 2008-July-21 11:24:15
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On July 19, some 3, 000 people swam across the downtown section of the Pearl River in Guangzhou, South China, in the third session of this annual citywide event since 2006. The water quality and the improved and efficient organization were well received as "good".

Groups swim one by one across the river in Guangzhou. (Guangzhou Daily)

The 2,000-meter swim was from the Zhongda Pier near the Sun Yat-sen University in the south to the Xinghai Musical Hall in the Ersha Island in the north.

The swimmers, organized in 60 groups on by one, included the tested citizens, Mayor Zhang Guangning and some other local senior officials, and the officials of foreign consulates in Guangzhou. All swimmers landed safe.

A sea of spectators were crowding at the waterfronts, and cheering for and photographing the swimmers.

Mayor of Guangzhou Zhang Guangning swims across the river. (Guangzhou Daily)

It feels good in the crossing!

Most swimmers felt the water quality was much better than before. And the event was shorter by nearly 1 hour than the expected, and safer.

Veteran amateur Li Guanxiang, a teacher, said the water was clean and a bit sweet, with few drifters, compared with last two years when the water had been somewhat bitter, oily and smelly of mud.

Ms. Liu, a middle-aged local, said the water was naturally good and had a little mud, just like three decades ago, when she was a kid and swimming in the river was very popular in Guangzhou. "It is a great pride for me to swim across the Pearl River as a local Cantonese!" She claimed.

Yesterday the time between assembling and swim start took 50% less time than before, and vessels and floating balls on water guided the swimmers in right direction. "It was relaxing!" Mr. Li said.

Identity IC cards were used for the first time. The card tied to wrist beeped to confirm the bearing participant鈥檚 identity and enter/exit time, when put close to a registering device on location.

A swimmer checks in with her Identity IC card. (Guangzhou Daily)

Over 50 lifeboats cruised and salvaged 10 swimmers during the swim, much fewer than 48 last year.

What the medical teams did the most was putting medicine drops in the swimmers鈥 eyes after they embarked, with only three injured received, a nurse said.

Special participants

Mr. Li from Haizhu District is single-armed. He only took 45 minutes to finish the swim, better than the average time of some 50 minutes. "The Pearl River was harder to cross than I had thought. I had to swim in all four styles of butterfly, frog, backstroke and free style in the second half."

Hes, a big household from Liwan District, featured nine participants of two generations.

The kids to depart into the water. (Guangzhou Daily)

There were many kids aged only 5 or 6 found in the group of professional sport. They were from the local sport schools. A five-year-old boy He Jiaxi was one of them, who only learned how to swim last November.

He was greeted by his mother with great care and concern after the swim. "Oh, my dear, you are so sun-tanned! " All he wanted from his mom now was what to eat.

Usually He Jr. can easily swim more than 1,000 meters long. "I swam past a group before me. It was great fun!" The kid boasted.

On the banks there were lots of volunteers with red hats providing reception, medical care, order control and logistics service, including 12 Olympic volunteers who were to head to Beijing later. Their operation for the river swim was regarded as practice and rehearsal for the Olympics.

Advices of TV Live

Some spectators gave suggestions to improve the event.

TV live is a major option to have much more people enjoy the annual gala on TV in house, especially the senior citizens and the physically weak.

The limited number of swimmers, especially for the first-time participants, was another regret and complaint for those on-looking persons who were itching for a try and fun in water. Those who had ever participated in the previous swims amounted to 80% of some groups, with few new faces.

It is hoped more people could have the opportunities to join in this public event.

Municipal efforts to improve the water quality

Vice Mayor of Guangzhou Su Zequn said yesterday the waste control had been practiced to all the some 100 brooks and rivers in the city, except for more than 20. The waste of the remaining ones will be controlled this year.

Guangzhou government will invest 1.5 billion yuan (217 million USD) to improve the river system later this year, he said.

Cantonese people used to have popular tradition of swimming in the "neighboring" and clean Pearl River decades ago.

Log of the crossing

13: 00 All swimmers and serving volunteers stand by, spectators gathered on waterfronts

13: 45 Launch ceremony

13: 56 First group dived to start, swim commenced

14: 24 First swimmer who finished landed

14: 50 First 1, 500 swimmers departed for the swim, the event proceeded by half

15: 00 Last group departed to swim

15: 20 Last group landed, swim concluded


Editor: Yan

By: Ronald Li Source:

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