Local adventurer to swim between Thai islands

2017-11-15 06:00
Adventure swimmer, Kyle Main.Photo:LULAMA ZENZILE

Adventure swimmer, Kyle Main.Photo:LULAMA ZENZILE

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PORT Elizabeth-based swimming and triathlon coach Kyle Main is preparing to become the first person to swim between two of Thailand’s famous islands.

The adventure swimmer will battle the currents from Ko Yao Yai Island – one of the largest islands off the Thailand coast - to Phi Phi Island in a continuous 22km swim in Thailand’s Andaman Sea that should take between four and five hours.

Having pioneered swims across South Africa, Main recently turned his rudder towards international waters, notching up several ultraswims including the Rottnest Channel off Australia in an African record time in 2015 and the Straits of Gibraltar in the fastest recorded time in 2013.

“Each marathon swim that I have done has been unique and challenging. Some have been similar in difficulty and others have been extremely challenging,” he said.

Main described that some marathons had been tough in the beginning, others towards the end, while some had been extremely tough from start to finish.

“This island-to-island crossing has not been attempted before like many others I have done. This presents many challenges as I have no reference to the nature of the swim – which direction, tides, cross-currents, island push-currents and trade winds.”

However, he said he had been studying shipping maps and had been planning accordingly as best he can with the help of some of his crew members.

“Once we are confident about the swim, I will finalise the route.”

Last year and slightly closer to his Indian Ocean shores, Main pioneered a 20km swim from Serpent Island, 30km north of Mauritius, to Flat Island days after he became the first person to swim from Flat Island, adjacent to the notorious Shark Pit diving site, to Grand Baie, a distance of 21km in four hours.

“The last two swims in Mauritius were of a similar nature to this one, so I can expect the similar challenges. Being so far out at sea presents a lot of cross-current chop and it is quite difficult to stay in a relaxed rhythm while keeping a fast pace.”

Ko Yao Yai is the largest island in the Ko Yao Archipelago positioned north of the notorious Straits of Malacca, one of the busiest shipping lanes on the globe.

Carrying about 25% of the world’s traded goods, the Strait, a narrow, 890km stretch of water between the Malay Peninsula and the Indonesian island of Sumatra, is one of the most important and congested shipping lanes in the world.

“Ko Yao Yai is on the northern most tip of the Strait, so I don’t expect too much big shipping,” Main said, adding that the big issue is going to be dealing with strong currents and chop that surround these islands.

Main said during his swims he always has a second boat next to him with crew members to navigate, spot and feed him.

“There will also be two locals on the boat, as well as my wife, Cindy.”

Main departs on December 10 and his actual swim window will be determined by conditions and tides.

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