Ridzwan Rahim Becomes First To Cross Perhentian Channel In Malaysia

Ridzwan Rahim Becomes First To Cross Perhentian Channel In Malaysia

Photos courtesy of Ariff Budiman Abdul Halim. Video courtesy of Mohd Fahmi Zainal Aripin. Besut, Malaysia.

The Perhentian Island Marathon Swim (also known as the Pulau Perhentian Besar Round Island Swim) is a 16 km circumnavigation swim held in Pulau, Perhentian Besar in Malaysia. The around-the-island swim is part of the Malaysia Open Water Swimming Series and is one of the World’s Top 100 Island Swims.

Perhentian Channel in Alunan Resort on Pulau Perhentian to Damai Beach Resort Camp in Besut, 19.1 km in 8 hours 56 minutes 30 seconds

On March 21st, Ridzwan Rahim went to the same island and pioneered the first crossing from Perhentian Island to the mainland Terengganu. His solo event was called the Perhentian Channel Solo Swim 2021. Starting in the dark at 4:00 am at the Alunan Resort on the popular resort island, Ridzwan was accompanied by a kayaker, an escort boat, and a media boat. He walked on land on Bukit Keluang Beach in Besut 8 hours 56 minutes later.

According to Malaysian sources, the 44-year-old Ridzwan was the first person to attempt and complete the 17 km course. With the surface chop and currents. Ridzwan covered a distance of 19.087 km with the help of his escort crew: Abdul Razak Abdul Aziz (team leader and observer), Mohd Hafizuddin Amlin (kayaker), Damien Ong-Yeoh (crew), Tsuyoshi Amzar Sawada (observer), Ariff Budiman Abdul Halim (photographer), Mohd Fahmi Zainal Aripin (drone videographer) and escort boat pilots, Wan Nor Hisham Wan Razak and Azrol Mohd Yusof.

Ridzwan commented on his unprecedented crossing, “For many years I had been wondering if it was possible to swim from Perhentian Island to mainland. Now I know the answer.” He had prepared for the crossing by swimming in the open water since 2013. In 2017, he completed a 16 km circumnavigation swim around Perhentian Besar Island.

Considering all the restrictions presented by the COVID-19 pandemic, Ridzman navigated all kinds of obstacles on dryland including pool closures due to the Movement Control Order. “I consider it a miracle that my team and I managed to travel to Perhentian to execute our plan.” Team leader and observer Abdul Razak said, “The team planned well and the 19 km swim (total distance) was pleasant for the most part. Praise be to God, the weather was perfect, the sea was calm and it seemed the tide and wind were in our favor. It was only in the last 600 meters before reaching Besut that we encountered strong current that hampered our progress. This caused us to exceed our original target time of eight hours. Nevertheless, it has been a particularly memorable swim for everyone involved. Some of us have been in this sport since the 1990s before it was even called open water swimming. Ridzwan’s amazing solo feat is a major leap forward. I believe we will now see a new wave that will inspire local swimmers as well as attract international swimmers.”

Ridzwan, who comes from Kajang, Selangor expressed his gratitude for the support and assistance received from the Besut District Office, the Royal Malaysian Police, the Besut Fire and Rescue Department, the Besut Malaysian Civil Defence Force, and the Tok Bali, Kelantan Chapter of the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency. The Perhentian Channel Solo Swim 2021 was made possible with police travel permit as well as notifications to these authorities.

Looking forward, the team has set up a Facebook page, Perhentian Channel Swim, and has made Damai Beach Resort Camp in Besut its base for future open water attempts and swims.

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Steven Munatones