New Year’s Resolution for 2012!

It’s barely December, but I already have a New Year’s Resolution for next year.

I want to do the Cross Harbor Swim Hong Kong in 2012.

 The Hong Kong Cross Harbor swim was this historic annual ‘race’ that was started in 1906; but after 1978, the race was no longer held, due to pollution in the harbor waters. This year, it was resurrected, and took place in October. They shifted the course, but it’s a little over a mile.

I didn’t find out about it until I reached Hong Kong and saw it in the newspaper. It had taken place a few days before my arrival, when I was still in Canton. I was slightly bummed, because I would have wanted to go watch the swim anyway.

And immediately I had the urge to swim in it myself. I guess it’s the romance, novelty and nostalgia of the idea of swimming across the harbor. This is very unusual for me: when it comes to athletic competition, I’m a wet noodle. I don’t do races or triathlons, unless motivated by someone else, i.e. Christina.  I need to do some legwork for next year.

1)    Assuming it’s going to be held.

2)    Assuming it won’t get canceled due to poor water quality conditions (e. coli!)

3)    See if they allow you to qualify by swimming in a time-trial outside of Hong Kong. Otherwise I’ll have to go to Hong Kong just to swim in one of the time-trials before the race.

4)    Assuming I win a spot through the lottery. They limited it to 1,000 participants. But there are categories split by age group and sex. I think/hope that very few old fogey women attempt the swim, so my odds would be better than those of some 20-something Mike Phelps-wannabe.

5)    To be eligible, you have to be able to swim 1500 metres in 45 minutes. I have no idea how fast I can swim. I need to get a lap counter, because I suck at tracking laps on my own.

6)    I just want to complete the swim, not place. The 2011 winner swam it in about 20 minutes!

7)    I hope non-Hong Kong residents are permitted to participate.

8)    I need to train in open-water swimming. Without a wetsuit. Around here, that means I’d have to wait until spring.

I had made a start on the last condition. While in Hong Kong, I took the bus to go swim at Clear Water Bay one morning. The sky was overcast; it was rather cool that day.

As the bus approached downhill, the older regulars (who swum the beach) on the top of the double-decker and I all looked out to the bay. “The waves look pretty choppy today,” they commented to each other, a bit glum.

 (Indeed, Clear Water Bay was less inviting than when I saw it the previous week, when we’d been driving around Sai Kung with Dr. L and Uncle So Ha. Then it was a humid, sunny and hot day. To see the glistening blue waters of the Bay, defined by a curve of green vegetation, and me without a swimsuit (or goggles) was almost more than I could bear. Must . . . come . . . back . . . to . . .  swim.)

I was a bit apprehensive myself, as I waded in. The beach wasn’t crowded, since it was a weekday, and there weren’t too many people swimming, because of the cool/waves. The waves were quite strong, but the water wasn’t as cold as I feared. It was actually quite refreshing.

I think I’ve a hit a certain level of warm-bloodedness in swimming: I like my swim water temperature a bit cooler than most. True the cold shock when you first get in the water is jarring, but that’s better than swimming in what feels like warm jello (ugh) five minutes later after you’ve warmed up.

I only swam two ‘laps’ out to the platform and back, since I had to get to Shatin for a lunch appointment, and was going to do so by transit. But honestly, I’m still not fully confident about swimming in open water, which is something I’ll really need to work on mentally. It helps for starters that there’s no chlorine in open-water – you don’t smell like chlorine after you shower.  I find it annoying that I can still smell the chlorine on my skin after my shower after my swim in a pool, and I do use a swimmer-shampoo rinse!


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