Open water swimmer Ridzwan Rahim conquers third leg of ‘Terengganu Four Swims’ challenge

Terengganu Four Swims

An aborted attempt, teammates who suffered sea sickness, and unfavourable weather conditions did not stop Ridzwan Rahim from creating more history, as the first person to swim solo from Pulau Lang Tengah to Pulau Perhentian in Terengganu.

It was the third leg of his ‘Terengganu Four Swims’ challenge following successful swims from Pulau Perhentian Kecil to Besut (2021) and Redang Island to Pantai Bari (2023). He will attempt to complete the fourth swim – Lang Tengah to Pulau Redang – later this year.

Ridzwan took 12 hours and 25 minutes to complete the 26.2km crossing as strong currents and swirling waves pushed him, his support boat, and his kayaker off course, and beyond the projected 17km distance.

“The boat crew who came to fetch us had advised us to call off the swim as the sea was ‘gila’ (mad),” said Ridzwan, a technical writer by profession.

“However, my crew decided to go to the starting point to see if it was as bad as they had described. Sure enough, after 2km, the sea became violent, and we knew we had to accept the advice and call off the attempt.

“The next morning, we decided to go out on the water to experience the conditions for a future attempt in June or July and to see how different it would be to swim in the daytime, as opposed to a night swim.”

Ridzwan said he was feeling relaxed and had resigned himself to the fact that the swim would be scrubbed.

He joked that he was thinking of the songs he was planning on singing at a karaoke session later in the day when his team leader, Abdul Razak Abdul Aziz, asked him if he wanted to make the attempt.

“We were 3km out when he asked me. Although the sea was not calm, I had found my rhythm and felt comfortable,” said Ridzwan, who is coming out with a board game to commemorate his four swims.

“We decided to go ahead, even though several of the crew were ill – our photographer did not even make it to the boat. Thankfully, the crew recovered quickly and could watch over me.

“It was challenging as our completed distance was 26.2km instead of 17km. It was also different swimming in the daytime instead of at night.”

Here, Ridzwan had some good fortune as the overcast skies meant the water was cool, and the temperature was lower than it usually is in the afternoons.

“Initially, it was difficult eating and drinking as sea water was getting into my feed, but, eventually I figured out how to eat and drink safely,” said Ridzwan.

“However, it was getting tiring fighting the waves. After being stung a few times by jellyfish, I thought of giving up.

“I had to block out the negative thoughts as I wanted to complete the swim for myself and my teammates.”

Ridzwan said he was glad to tick another swim off his bucket list and would take a short break before planning his fourth swim later in the year.