As more Filipinos wrap up in thick jackets to protect themselves from the chilly weather, Betsy Medalla is during quite the opposite. She is actually taking cold showers and bathing in a tub filled with ice cubes. This so called routine of hers is part of a preparation that no Filipino has ever done before. On 9th February, she will be participating in a historic open water swim along with her Filipino triathlete coach Julian Valencia. Together, they will be braving the frigid and shark-infested waters in Cape Town, South Africa, where the temperatures ranges between 12 to 15 degrees Celsius.
This open water swim known as “A Rainbow of Hope – a Celebration of Philippine-South African Friendship,” is a charity event organised to aid the victims of Typhoon Yolanda. It is also a way of showing gratitude to the people of South Africa for their generous assistance to the Philippines back in November. At the same time, this open water swim will serve as a testament to the enduring friendship between the Philippines and South Africa. Aside from that, it will also be a commemoration of the life of South Africa’s late President Nelson Mandela, who passed away last year on 5th December.
The charity event would require participants to swim 7.2 kilometers in total, starting from the shores of Robben Island all the way to the suburb of Bloubergstrand in Cape Town, South Africa. Both Betsy and Julian will be the first Filipinos and Asians to partake in this open swim event. In order to be recognised as official participants in the Robben Island swim, they will only be allowed to wear the standard competition swimsuits and goggles.
With approximately just two weeks remaining to the event, Betsy has stepped up her game by increasing the frequency and intensity of her swimming sessions. She has also been training her body to get use to the cold temperatures. “It’s a good thing that the weather here in Manila has gone down a bit, since I get to swim in colder waters. Swimming in the cold is part of what makes this [event] exciting,” stated the 44-year-old, who was previously part of the Philippine National Swim Team. For more of the story, you can read it here.
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