Ridzwan Rahim - Perhentian Channel

Perhentian Kecil to Bukit Keluang Beach

17 km (10.6 miles)

8 hours, 56 minutes on 21 March 2021

Observed and documented by Tsuyoshi Amzar Sawada

First documented swim



  • Name: Ridzwan Rahim
  • Gender: male
  • Age on swim date: 44
  • Nationality: Malaysia
  • Resides: Kajang, Malaysia

Support Personnel

  • Damien Ong-Yeoh - Crew
  • Mohd Hafizuddin Amlin - Kayaker
  • Abdul Razak Abdul Aziz - Observer 1
  • Tsuyoshi Amzar Sawada - Observer 2
  • Ariff Budiman Abdul Halim - Photographer
  • Mohd Fahmi Zainal Aripin - Drone videographer
  • Azrol Mohd Yusof - Escort boat pilot
  • Wan Nor Hisham Wan Razak - Media boat pilot

Escort Vessel

Name Type Port
Anis Two-seater kayak Perhentian Kecil Island
Rizqin Holidays (escort boat) Single-engined 12-seater passenger boat Perhentian Kecil Island
Unnamed vessel (media boat) Single-engined 12-seater passenger boat Perhentian Kecil Island

Swim Parameters

  • Category: Solo, nonstop, unassisted.
  • Rules: MSF Rules of Marathon Swimming, without exception or modification.
  • Equipment used: Textile swimsuit, silicone cap, goggles, light, sunscreen, grease.

Route Definition

  • Body of Water:
  • Route Type: one-way channel swim
  • Start Location: Alunan Resort, Perhentian Kecil Island (5.895061, 102.722193)
  • Finish Location: Damai Beach Camp, Bukit Keluang Beach (5.813270, 102.593286)
  • Minimum Route Distance: 17 km (10.6 miles) (map)


In 2017, the first ever 16km round island solo swim around the Perhentian Besar island was organised by open water swim organiser Swimon. Fifteen swimmers were in this 2017 group and 11 of them completed the swim including Ridzwan. This swim is recorded on LongSwimsDB. Prior to 2017, there have been circumnavigation swims of Perhentian Island but in relay formats only.

Swim Data

  • Start: 21 March 2021, 04:00:00 (Asia/Kuala_Lumpur, UTC8).
  • Finish: 21 March 2021, 12:56:30
  • Elapsed: 8 hours, 56 minutes, 30 seconds.

Summary of Conditions

Feature Min Max
Water Temp (C) 28.5 32
Air Temp (C) 26 30
Wind (knots) 7 15

GPS Track

Trackpoint frequency: 30 minutes. Download raw data (CSV).

Click to expand map.

Speed Plot

Nutrition: Every 45-60 minutes. Mix of bananas, chocolate, energy bar, sandwich, water, gatorade, white coffee.

Observer Log

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by lead observer Abdul Razak Abdul Aziz

As an observer as well as team leader, I was involved in this project from start to finish – before, during and after the swim. Here is my observation of what transpired during this project.

By the time I got into the team, the project was already in full swing. Ridzwan planned the swim himself. He was clear about what he wanted to achieve, which was to complete the swim in strict accordance with MSF rules, with no exception or modifications. He planned everything around this objective and how we could help him achieve it. Along with being an observer, Ridzwan roped me in to be in charge when he is in the water, swimming.

The selection of team members was also done by Ridzwan. The size of the team was perfect. Most of us came from a previous project called Melaka Straits Swim, so we already knew what each team member could bring to the table. The synergy was there.

Ridzwan also worked with his local contact – our kayaker Hafizuddin – to inform the local authorities about our swim and have them on standby for any eventuality. Because everything had already been handled by Ridzwan and his point man in Besut, our job became easy. We just had to show up, do some minor adjustments and execute the plan.

I liked how the team handled a crisis that cropped up the day before the swim. The escort boat that we had chartered from Besut, which was supposed to also ferry Hafizuddin’s kayak, failed to show up when it was supposed to. Fortunately, we had allocated that entire Saturday to act in case anything like this happened. Because we had already settled everything else for the swim, we were able to deal with the boat and kayak problems in a calm manner. We did not panic. By sundown on Saturday, everything was set and we were able to have a good rest prior to the swim at 4am.

On swim day, the weather was good. We started on a positive note. Witnessed by a small group of well-wishers, we said some prayers and Ridzwan got into the water right on time. Every member of the team was clear about what to do as we boarded our respective vessels.

This positive energy was carried out throughout the swim until the end.

During the swim proper, we were blessed with good sea and weather conditions the entire journey. Short of having a mirror-like sea surface, everything else was near perfect. During the night portion of the swim, the wind was mild and the sea was just nice according to our thermometers and anemometer. We felt comfortable on the boat and could see that our swimmer, too, was at ease.

The plan was to stop every 45 minutes for a few minutes for feeding. One particular feeding stop, at 6.30am, was slightly longer to allow Muslim members of the team to perform Subuh (dawn) prayers. Hafizuddin parked his kayak against the media boat and prayed while seated on his kayak. Ridzwan performed his prayer lying in a supine position in the water.

The team was well-coordinated. The respect for each other was there. Each member played his role well. We brought along our walkie-talkies and were at ease using them as the calm sea made communication between our vessels easy. Even our boat pilots whom we had only known a day earlier performed their jobs well. They had experience escorting swimmers during the annual Perhentian 16km Round Island Swim. Hafizuddin and Ridzwan were able to navigate by themselves using the distinctively shaped Rhu Island as their target.

To break the monotony of the journey, my fellow observer Yoshi-san and I took turns to jump into the water and accompany Ridzwan in his swim, something which we had already informed him prior to the swim. We understood that we were supposed to position ourselves away from and slightly behind him as per the MSF rules. I jumped into the water at 8.24am and swam for about 20 minutes. Yoshi-san dived in at 10.17am and swam for about 20 minutes.

We made good progress and reached our checkpoint Rhu Island at around 10.15am. Things were looking promising. We thought we could finish the swim ahead of schedule. However, from that point onward, the current started shifting. We could see Ridzwan facing a bit of a difficulty. During one particular feeding break, he was pushed back by the current. We had to shorten the feeding time.

When we saw our swimmer not making progress, we debated on what course of action we could take. We counted his stroke and determined he was still okay. Finally, we decided if he was pushed back again, one of us would jump into the water to provide moral support. I ended up jumping in and was swimming next to and slightly behind Ridzwan for about 20 minutes.

Eventually, Ridzwan broke free from that current under his own power and resumed towards shore at his normal pace. He finished in an official time of 8hr 56min 30sec, and received a quick checkup at a waiting Malaysia Civil Defence Force ambulance. The entire team along with the Civil Defence Force personnel were treated to a hearty lunch at Damai Beach Camp Resort by Hafizuddin’s parents, who own the resort.

One month after the swim, we are still receiving regular media coverage.

In our small marathon swim community, Ridzwan was considered an average swimmer. But he knew his strengths and quietly trained and planned. And when he finally delivered this feat, it came as a shock (in a good way) to everybody. Based on the media coverage as well as chatter on social media, it seems his achievement has been well received by the Malaysian general public. I guess people love underdog stories.


Click to enlarge.