When Big Is Huge: Sun-Moon Lake Swimming Carnival

When Big Is Huge: Sun-Moon Lake Swimming Carnival

The Sun-Moon Lake Ten-Thousand Swimming Carnival is simply massive. Like its counterpart open water swimming events in South Africa (aQuellé Midmar Mile), Great Britain (British Gas Great North Swim), Sweden (Vansbrosimningen), Turkey (Boğazıçi Kitalararasi Yarislari), and Australia (Rottnest Channel Swim), the cross-lake event is a giant celebration of open water swimming.

Held on September 8th for its 31st annual event, the Sun-Moon Lake Ten-Thousand Swimming Carnival is a in central Taiwan is a non-competitive, non-timed 3 km point-to-point lake swim that certainly achieves its goals with its 25,000 entrants: swim with friends and promote recreation, develop grassroots physical education, popularize the beauty of Sun-Moon Lake, and increase tourism.

But it is still shocking how large this event has become under the leadership of Morrie Chiang, a Professor at the National Taiwan University of Science and Technology. Everything about the event is super-sized. From the number of participating government agencies to the number of floating pontoons that cut a course between the shores, it is a mightily massive event.

Under the auspices of the Puli Four-season Swimming Association, there is a large number of agencies that are called in to support and work this event, there are the Ministry of Education, Ministry of National Defense, Army Headquarters, Tourism Bureau, Sun Moon Lake National Area Administration, Tourism Bureau, Nantou County Council, Chinese Taipei Olympic Committee, Nantou County Government, Master Swimming Taiwan, Red Cross Society of the Republic of China (Taiwan), New Taipei City Rescue and Ambulance Volunteer Association, Phoenix Ambulance Volunteer Team, New Taipei City Fire Department, The Army 10th Corp Command, Military Police 203 Command, Marine Corps Command, Air Force 455th Wing, The 5th (Central) Regional Support Command, Taichung Veterans General Hospital, Nantou County Government Education Bureau, Nantou County Government Transportation and Tourism Bureau, Nantou County Police Bureau, Nantou County Government Fire Department, Nantou County Government Public Health Bureau, Nantou County Government Environmental Protection Bureau Cultural Affairs Bureau of Nantou County, Nantou County Government Agricultural Bureau, Nantou County Police Station Transportation Team, Nantou County Government Department of Social Affairs Nantou County Government Information Bureau, Nantou County Investigation Bureau, Ministry of Justice Puli Township Office, Caotun Township Office, Yuchih Township Office, Nantou County Police Bureau Jiji Precinct, Sun-Moon Lake Local Police Station, De-Hwa Local Police Station, Sun-Moon Lake Fire Department Branch, Riyue Village Office, Shuishe Village Office, Sun-Moon Lake Image and Business Development Association, Health Center of Yuchih Township of Nantou County, New Taipei City Nantou County Association, Chinese Taipei Swimming Association Central Branch Changhua County Surf Life Saving Association, Diving Rescue Association R.O.C., Puli Christian Hospital, Taichung Veterans General Hospital Puli Branch, Taiwan Blood Service Foundation Puli Blood Station Nantou County Ferry and Yacht United Association, Nantou County Sun Moon Lake Fishery Association, Ming-Tan Junior High School, Ming-Tan Elementary School, De-Hwa Elementary School, Sun-Moon Lake Wenwu Temple, Vitalon Welfare Foundation, and Mizuno (Taiwan) Corporation, Shin Kong Life Insurance Company, Decathlon Taiwan Company, Eradiate Enterprise Company, 18°C Chocolate, Formosan Original Culture Village.

And similar to other mass participation event, the visual-impaired and physically disabled athletes start first. Then groups (or heats) of other swimmers follow so there is a smooth flow of over 26,000 people in the water. But seeing the thousands of swimmers with bright orange swim caps bobbing up and down, many doing breaststroke and all with the swim buoys tied on, cross the largest lake located in central Taiwan is impressive. Especially since the heats are set off at 7:30 am and the entire lake is cleared at 1:00 pm.

Swimmers between the ages of 8 to 70 years old who are capable of swimming 3 km can participate. Individuals who are older than 65 years must be accompanied by a teammate with lifesaving abilities. People with any medical history of heart disease, high blood pressure, asthma, epilepsy, cellulitis, or whoever is taking illicit drugs cannot participate in the event.

The relatively inexpensive fee provides entrants with a t-shirt, swim cap, lunch with drink, and group incident insurance. And there are several other goodies for select groups of people. For example, the first 10,000 applicants receive memorial towels as do teams with more than 30 swimmers and the first 100 physically disabled swimmers. Additionally, couples whose total age equal 120, 130, or 140 years receive a special certificate.

Safety protocols and procedures are institutionalized throughout the registration process and on event day. Everyone must wear a swim buoy and an official swim cap. Entrants are encouraged to train and test themselves in cold-water pools prior to the Carnival and everyone is reminded that the event is not a competition; rather, the swimmers are mandated to swim easily and together while keeping an eye out for everyone in their individual groups.

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Copyright © 2013 by World Open Water Swimming Association
Steven Munatones