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Spill turns away competitors from swim fest

September 2, 2006

•160 participants in 2005 down to 12 this year

By Hazel P. Villa

ILOILO CITY—In the aftermath of the country’s worst oil spill on Aug. 11, only a few brave men will dare swim the Guimaras-Iloilo Strait.

From 160 swimmers in 2005, only 12 registered for the 3rd Kayaba Guimaras-Iloilo Cross Channel Swim scheduled this Sept. 9.

“It used to be that we had to turn away participants from joining, but now we have to beg swimmers to participate. They have been turned off by the oil spill and the advisory of the Department of Health,” said Jay Balnig, a radio commentator and project director of Kayaba.

Of the 12 who registered for this year’s swim, three were from Guimaras and the rest were from Iloilo City and province.

Aksyon Radyo, of the Manila Broadcasting Company, that organizes the sporting event endorsed by the Department of Tourism was forced to move the registration deadline to Sept. 6 or three days before the actual competition.

The Kayaba Guimaras-Iloilo Cross Channel Swim drew 180 swimmers when it was launched in 2003.

The participants have to swim 4.2 nautical miles from Buenavista Wharf in Guimaras to the polluted Iloilo River across the Iloilo Strait.

This year, the open cross channel swim will only be 1.7 nautical miles from Guimaras’ Jordan Wharf to the cleaner Fort San Pedro Wharf in Iloilo City.

And still, swimmers say no.

(Click Swim fest for the full story, Sept. 2, 2006.)

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