Ex-journo Ridzwan A. Rahim completes historic swim from Redang Island to Terengganu mainland

The desire not to let his teammates down was the motivating factor Ridzwan A. Rahim (main image, fourth from left) needed to create history on June 25.

The former journalist turned technical writer became the first person to swim from Marine Park Centre on Redang Island to Pantai Bari on the Terengganu mainland, completing the exhausting and punishing 38km distance in 20’42:26 seconds.

His accomplishment comes 10 months after he narrowly failed to complete the swim when he was a mere 6km from the finishing line. Ridzwan revealed he nearly retired a second time.

“It was more a mental than physical challenge to finish the swim,” said Ridzwan, the first person to swim across the Perhentian Channel from Pulau Perhentian Kecil to Besut in 2021.

“I was 10km from Bari Beach, Kg Bari Besar when the doubts started again.

“I asked the crew how much further to Kg Bari. They told me 10km. After feeding time, I asked them again how far to the finish line and again, they said 10km. I got annoyed.

“I did not know the waves kept pushing me back. That was why the distance was the same after so many hours.”

Ridzwan wanted to stop as he felt he deserved a break after “battling the choppy sea and winds”, but he could not find a valid reason to end the attempt.

It was hard as the sun was at its hottest. Ridzwan had to dig deep to continue.

“My body, heart rate and breathing were normal. I was not tired, so that could not be an excuse,” said the father of two.

“I also knew I did not want to let my crew down. I did not share my doubts with the team, but they probably sensed it.

“When I told the crew I would continue, even if it had to finish at night, they cheered. That gave me strength.”

He pushed on and completed the swim after nearly 21 hours.

Ridzwan’s crew consisted of Mohd Faiz Mat Isa (team leader and chief feeder), Mohd Hafizuddin Amlin (kayaker), Shamsul Hamimi Ab Rahman (lead observer), Tsuyoshi Amzar Sawada (observer), Muhammad Fajrul Hazreen Zainal (lifesaver and medic), Ariff Budiman Abdul Halim (photographer), and Mohd Fahmi Zainal Aripin (drone videographer).

The boat crew consisted of Mohd Nazuan Azharrudin, Muhamad Muhaimin Mat Yunus and Muhammad Hairiy Che Jais (escort boat), Shamzur Azren Che Samaon, Muhammad Haiziey Che Jais, Mohd Fazlin Zakaria, and Roki (media boat).

“Now that I have completed two challenges, I am halfway through my ‘Terengganu Four Swims’ challenge,” said Ridzwan.

“The other swims will be from Perhentian Island to Lang Tengah (19km) and from Lang Tengah to Redang Island (10km).

“On paper, those challenges seem easier than swimming from Redang to the mainland. But from experience, I know it is never as easy as it seems.”

Ridzwan said he is suffering from salt mouth (the effect of salt build-up on the tongue, mouth and throat due to prolonged exposure to the ocean).

He added that he did not have a problem during the swim but could not eat for nearly a day after he finished.

“I have a cut on the lower right side of my lip and an ulcer on the left side of my mouth,” said Ridzwan.

“It was painful even to drink water.

“I will take a break for now and start planning by the end of the year. I want to spend some time with my family and recover,” he added.

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