Ridzwan Rahim - Lang Tengah - Perhentian Channel

Pulau Lang Tengah to Pulau Perhentian Besar

19.4 km (12.1 miles)

12 hours, 25 minutes on 3 March 2024

Observed and documented by Shamsul Hamimi Ab Rahman and Tsuyoshi Amzar Sawada

First

Contents

Swimmer

  • Name: Ridzwan Rahim
  • Gender: male
  • Age on swim date: 47
  • Nationality: Malaysian
  • Resides: Kajang, Selangor, Malaysia

Support Personnel

Observers

Shamsul Hamimi Ab Rahman

Tsuyoshi Amzar Sawada

Escort Vessels


Swim Parameters

  • Category: Solo, nonstop, unassisted.
  • Rules: MSF Rules of Marathon Swimming, without exception or modification.
  • Equipment used: Textile swimsuit (Speedo jammer), silicone cap, goggles (Speedo), Guardian LED light, vaseline, zinc oxide.

Route Definition

  • Body of Water: South China Sea
  • Route Type: one-way channel swim
  • Start Location: Beach in front of Summer Bay Resort, Pular Lang Tengah (5.794776, 102.892797)
  • Finish Location: Flora Bay, Pulau Perhentian Besar (5.891170, 102.746655)
  • Minimum Route Distance: 19.4 km (12.1 miles) (map)

History

First known swim of this route


Swim Data

  • Start: 3 March 2024, 09:30:00 (Asia/Kuala_Lumpur, UTC8).
  • Finish: 3 March 2024, 21:55:15
  • Elapsed: 12 hours, 25 minutes, 15 seconds.

Summary of Conditions

Feature Min Max
Water Temp (C) 28.1 30
Air Temp (C) 27.7 31.7
Wind (knots) 3.1 13.4

GPS Track

Trackpoint frequency: 20 minutes. Download raw data (CSV).

Click to expand map.

Speed Plot

Nutrition: Feeding was done every 45 minutes, the feed delivered to the swimmer using a throw bag. The type of feed depended on the swimmer’s request. The swimmer was also fed canned peaches on one occasion to prevent salt mouth, as noted in the observer log.


Observer Log

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Swimmer Statement

By Ridzwan Rahim

THE best story that came out of this swim is this: my team and I now have some ideas what it’s like to swim during a monsoon season.

Our verdict: it can be done, but will be tough on both swimmer and crew. Some on your team will get seasick. Only the toughest will survive and be able to function.

A little backgrounder: Malaysia has two monsoon seasons. The one called the Northeast Monsoon hits the East Coast of Peninsular Malaysia from November to March.

The Northeast Monsoon brings with it heavy rain, floods, and rough seas. Generally, people stay away from the sea during this period.

I admit I took a gamble when I planned this swim for the tail end of the monsoon season. I assumed if the monsoon season came on time last year (which it did), it would end by March.

But as we found out much to our chagrin during swim weekend, the monsoon season was still very much in full swing.

On event day, our boat crew took longer than anticipated to get to Summer Bay Resort Pulau Lang Tengah, our base for the event.

When they finally did, my kayaker Pie went to the jetty to greet them.

Pie came back from the jetty looking depressed. I asked what the boat crew had told him about the sea condition.

“Gila (the sea is mad),” Pie said. My heart sank. Both of us were speechless.

Evidently, our boat crew had had a difficult time getting to the island. Soon after setting off from the mainland, the rough sea left some of them trembling in fear.

They advised us to call off the swim. It was pitch dark out there. They said it would be difficult for them to see oncoming swells. Our boats might capsize.

Our team convened an emergency meeting. We decided to still go to our starting point at Bubbles Dive Resort in Perhentian, and see the sea condition for ourselves.

True enough, it was rough. Some of us succumbed to seasickness on that ride. One of them was Aqil, the last-minute replacement photographer for our usual guy Ariff Budiman. It looked like he should not be on the boat for the swim proper.

About 5km out from Lang Tengah, our boat skippers got the jitters and insisted on turning back.

I thought, that was it. Perhentian – Lang Tengah Solo Swim 2024 would be a non-event.

On our way back to the resort, I felt dejected because this was my first event with corporate sponsors. U Mobile, Summer Bay Resort, Speedo, and X3SI had enough belief in the mission to agree to get on board.

Even our online tracker which I had set up much earlier did not work that night. But credit to my team, they refused to give up and decided to try again the following morning.

That Sunday morning, we sent a scout team consisting of Razak, Sam, Pie, Yoshi, Budiman, and one of our boat skippers Yen to recce the sea condition.

Their verdict: the sea was not much different from the previous night, but we now had daylight for better visibility.

Also, if we wanted to swim, we should probably change our route and swim from Lang Tengah to Perhentian instead, for a more favourable wind condition.

It was a tough call. Within the scout team, the votes of ‘go’ and ‘no go’ were split 50-50.

Razak recommended a 3km test swim from Lang Tengah, just for me to have a feel for swimming in the large swells. After 3km, we would end the swim and return to the resort. Perhaps we would sing karaoke later that night.

I voted yes to both the 3km test swim and the karaoke.

It was sunny but not too hot when we started our swim from Summer Bay Resort that Sunday morning at 9.30am.

The water felt cool.

I could see right to the bottom of the sea for the most part of that first hour. The water around Lang Tengah was that clear.

True enough, after a few kilometres, the large swells started hitting from my right.

But by then, I had already found my rhythm.

I was still thinking about that karaoke, though. I was waiting for our boat skippers to say, “Ok enough swimming. Let’s head back.” I would’ve happily obliged. But the instruction never came.

Finally, during a feeding break, Razak said the team could see I was doing well and had decided we would continue swimming. I said okay.

Although I had found my rhythm, feeding was still a challenge. I had to tread higher in the water and time my bites and sips with the oncoming waves to prevent seawater from coming into contact with my feeds.

Soon, the team told me we had already covered 8km. The distance between Lang Tengah and Perhentian is 17km. In my mind, we had about 10km more to go.

I was wrong, but it gave me comfort. 10km was one of my ‘shorter’ training distances at the pool under Coach Shauqie. I could do 10km quite comfortably.

Even then, I was non-committal about finishing. Once, the team recorded a video interview with me. In between the splashing waves, I said there was a possibility we MIGHT EVEN finish this swim.

The sea was so rough that even my kayaker Pie was overcome by seasickness, and had to be replaced by my observer Yoshi for a brief spell. I had never seen Pie getting seasick.

I also had contact with marine life. I was stung presumably by jellyfish at least four times during this swim—the most number of stings I had ever got since I started marathon swimming.

Every time I got stung, I stopped, unwrapped the long tentacles from my limb or body, and reported the incident to the medic. The pain was mild and did not require medical attention.

I did not see what type of animal I ran into, but the team did encounter a number of Portuguese man o’ war (or bluebottles) during the swim. So it was possible that what stung me was not jellyfish, but bluebottles.

Soon, it was getting dark. The team asked me to switch to clear goggles for nighttime swimming.

I could see Perhentian Island in front of me but I was also getting exhausted. I had been swimming in that adverse condition for more than 10 hours, and had no respite.

By this time, it was no longer about swim technique. I was basically just flailing my arms.

What kept me going was a desire to bring back good news to my family, friends, and sponsors. I was swimming purely from the heart.

I did not ask my team how much further to the island. I did not want to be demotivated.

When the sea started to calm down, I knew we were not very far away.

One team member (I can’t remember who) told me we had to switch to another landing spot, as we had missed Bubbles Dive Resort. We would be heading into Teluk Dalam instead, which would be a further 700m in.

They said our escort boats would not be following me into Teluk Dalam due to the low tide.

Yoshi sprang into action. He got on his paddleboard and guided me to the beach, while Pie transported our videographer Fahmi on his kayak to document the landing.

I felt the water turning considerably warmer as we entered Teluk Dalam.

As I was approaching the beach, I saw crowds of people and a fire show, and thought my team might’ve gone slightly overboard with our celebration! But no, the fire show was not for me.

I landed in front of Arwana Perhentian Resort, much to the bemusement of the local villagers. This was a a real WTF swim. I allowed myself time to cry while prostrating on the beach. Time: 12hr 25min 15sec. Total swim distance: 26.2km.

So yes, a 3km test swim became a 26km swim across a channel.

Perhentian – Lang Tengah Solo Swim 2024 did not go according to plan, but in the end, it was still good. I’m happy that my coach Shauqie and a squadmate Hakimi Radzi were on this trip, along with Fikri and Casey from my partner Project Life Aquatic. They had a swell time (see what I did there?) with their first ever night open water swim at Summer Bay Resort. I am also happy that our partner Universiti Malaysia Terengganu Institute of Oceanography and Environment (INOS UMT) again provided us with the forecast for this swim.

The day after the swim as we were leaving the island to return to Kuala Lumpur, the sea was calm.



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