2 Pinoys to embark on historic swim in South Africa

Posted at 01/24/14 4:56 PM

MANILA – Two Filipino triathletes will try to complete a 7.2 kilometer swim in Cape Town, South Africa for a worthy cause.

Betsy Medalla and Julian Valencia will be the very first Filipinos to take part in the historic open water swim dubbed as "A Rainbow of Hope—A Celebration of Philippine-South African Friendship" on February 9.

The activity will be a gesture of gratitude to South Africans for extending their hand to super typhoon "Yolanda" victims in central Philippines.

Over 50 South African doctors and nurses were deployed to Yolanda-devastated areas through the Philippine-South African humanitarian mission composed of the Philippine Coast Guard, private emergency response unit Rescue Team 926, Inc., and The Gift of the Givers Foundation, South Africa’s biggest and most active humanitarian organization.

The event will also be dedicated to honor the life of the late president Nelson Mandela who passed away on December 5, 2013.

Medalla and Valencia will brave the shark-infested waters and cold temperatures when they swim from the shores of Robben Island to the suburb of Bloubergstrand in Cape Town.

However, the pair will only be allowed to wear standard competition swimsuits and goggles during the swim. When they complete the swim, they will receive certificates from the Cape Long Distance Swimming Association.

Forty-four year old Medalla will be the lead swimmer. The mother of two is a former member of the Philippine National Swim Team and an accomplished triathlete and swim coach.

Meanwhile, 40-year old Valencia who will serve as secondary swimmer is an age-group triathlete and runner and a former member of the UP Varsity Swimming Team. He also competed internationally including the Cobra Ironman 70.3 in Camarines Sur and the New York City ING Marathon and other local long distance swimming events.

They will fly to Cape Town on February 3 to start cold water endurance training at the Seapoint Olympic Pool.

The Robben Island swim will also raise funds for the programs of Rescue 926 Inc and the Gift of the Givers for the rehabilitation and rebuilding of communities in and around Leyte province.