Young swimmers make winning splash

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 20 October, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 20 October, 2011, 12:00am


Young competitors claimed the top prizes on Sunday in Hong Kong's cross-harbour swim, which returned after a 33-year break. The teenagers stood out from nearly 1,000 people who participated in the race in Victoria Harbour.

John Ling Tin-yu, 18, won the men's open category in 20minutes and 34 seconds. David Wong, 22, was second, 14 seconds behind.

Natasha Tang Wing-yung, 19, a student at Diocesan Girls' School, won the women's open race in 23min 7 sec.

Weeks before the competition, a cloud seemed to hang over the New World Harbour Race. Some were concerned pollution levels in the sea, and weather forecasters also warned of a typhoon that day. Yet despite the worries, the 1.8-kilometre race - from Lei Yue Mun to Quarry Bay Park - went smoothly.

John, who is studying in Britain, and is a member of an open-water swimming squad, says he chose the right strategy to beat David, who recently won the 200m freestyle at the Fina Swimming World Cup in Dubai. 'David is very fit, so I pushed myself in the beginning to build up a lead. It worked well, and the strategy helped me win,' John says.

'I liked the atmosphere during the race; it is rare to have so many people cheering for swimmers in an open-water race. I will come again for sure, if the organiser holds the race again next year.'

After the race, John left immediately to catch a flight from Shenzhen to Nanchang . He is competing there for Hong Kong at the National Intercity Games.

Nicholas Lau Chak-lam, 16, from Diocesan Boys' School (DBS), finished first out of the 12- to 16-year-old boys, in 20 min 49 sec. It was an impressive effort by Nicholas, who came third out of Hong Kong's swimmers in Fina's international 10-kilometre marathon race this month.

Nicholas thanked his coach Dickson Chan Tit-shing for his success. Before the race, Chan, from Dik Wing Association, had checked the wind direction and discussed strategy with Nicholas. He then crossed the harbour to wait at the finish.

Nicholas said: 'I had a clear target. Right at the start, I followed the first leader boat so I was sure I wouldn't get lost in the middle of race.

'The water was clean, and I didn't crash into rubbish in the sea. But the waves got rougher after the first half of the race.'

Nicholas also thanked the DBS principal and the PE teacher for letting him swim in the race.

'The cross-harbour race comes in the middle of the inter-school competition, but they are not worried that I am spending my energy on this. So I hope I can also win some medals for my school,' he says.

Fiona Chan, 14, won the 12-to-16 age group for girls, finishing in 24min 10 sec.

The cross-harbour swim had been last held in 1978. But the annual event was suspended because of fears over water pollution.

Full results of this year's race will be available on next week