The first China to Taiwan swim was held earlier this year from Xiamen in the Fujian Province in China to Shuangkou Village in Kinmen County in Taiwan.
As a symbol of cross-strait peace, the swimmers participated under the mutual goal that is translated to 'Unifying China with One Country, Two Systems.'
The occasionally tumultuous six-decade history between China and Taiwan came to light in the planning of the event where 48 swimmers from Taiwan and 49 swimmers from China swam 7.1K across a portion of the Taiwan Strait.
Event organizer Lee Chu-feng said of the first Xiamen-Kinmen Swim, "The fact that the two sides of the Taiwan Strait are able to hold such an event after six decades of hostility signifies that Taiwan and the mainland are striding towards peace.
"This is an event to increase friendly exchanges and peaceful cooperation between the two sides." The harmony was epitomized when the swimmers finished at Shuangkou in Taiwan which was formerly a military zone between China and Taiwan. In 1958, the Chinese military dropped more than 470,000 shells on Kinmen in 44 days, killing 618 servicemen and civilians.
In a concrete outcome of the event planning, the Kinmen County Government removed the spear-like anti-landing barricades and cleared the landmines that had been left over from the militaristic past at Shuangkou Beach before the event started.
Any swim that included military barricade removal and landmine clearing as part of its safety planning is surely a remarkable event. The swim was co-organized by the Chinese Swimming Association, Xiamen Municipal Government and the Chinese Taipei Swimming Association and the Kinmen County Government
22-year-old Chinese swimmer Li Yenhan was the first to complete the 7.1K mass participation swim in 1:10. "It was not difficult. There were some rough currents somewhere near Binlan islet, but after that, it was smooth." Swimmers between the ages of 15 and 61 completed the swim.
The future looks bright as open water swimming continues to break down barriers, improve the goodwill between neighbors and showcase camaraderie among like-minded people. We look forward to the 2010 race.
Copyright © 2009 by Steven Munatones