New Year's Day chill-out at swim race

While some revellers were finishing their pub crawls, for others the front crawl beckoned

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 02 January, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 02 January, 2013, 4:00am


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From just four years old to 78, Hong Kong's hardiest gathered on the shores of Repulse Bay for the annual New Year's Day swimming race.

The South China Sea offered the 2,315 competitors a chilly reception at just 16 degrees. Ching Wun-yui, the youngest competitor at four years and three months old, was trembling with cold by the time she managed to cover the 600 metres to the finish line.

For the third time, the overall winner and winner of the men's open category was Tsang King-keung, 20, who took just 5 minutes and 55 seconds to swim from Middle Bay Beach to the Repulse Bay jetty.

Tsang's first win came when he was 17 and it was his eighth New Year's Day race.

"Although it is cold today, the sunshine made me feel comfortably warm as I swam," he said.

Holding the trophy in his hands, again, Tsang said his New Year's wish was to swim even faster in next year's race.

Wun-yui was taking part with her father and six-year-old brother. "My daughter started to swim at the age of two, and her goal is to catch up with her brother," said the girl's father.

The second-youngest competitor to finish, Leung Win-wai, at four years and nine months old, was swimming when he was only six months old.

The two youngsters' fathers kept their children company during the race, keeping their spirits up and egging them on.

Ching's father said: "It was a great opportunity for her to learn how to get through difficult situations and persevere in her efforts."

The oldest swimmer to finish was 78-year-old Chan Kai-chuen from Macau.

Veteran competitor Wong Kin-ming, 54, has polio and needs crutches to walk. "I first took part in 1984 and I have never been absent since," he said.

"When there are lots of people telling you that you can't do something - like I was told about this race - then that's when you have to do it," he said with conviction.

Organised by the Hong Kong Life Saving Society, this year's swim was the 37th.