International open water swim circuit kicks off in Guimaras

By Mariela Angella Oladive

The third leg of the International Open Water Swim Circuit begins today, June 29, coinciding with Philippine Environment Month, at the Taklong Island Marine Reserve in Nueva Valencia, Guimaras.

Running until June 30, the two-day event features various activities aimed at promoting sports, local culture, and environmental sustainability.

The opening program will start at 2:30 PM on the first day, followed by activities including Green Advocacy talks, race briefing, registration, body markings, and distribution of race kits.

Additionally, a cultural fair will showcase the rich heritage of Guimaras through booths displaying local products, crafts, and traditional foods.

The main event, a swim race, will take place the following day with approximately 150 swimmers participating across three categories: 2.5 km, 5 km, and 7 km. The race will commence at 6 AM, followed by an awarding ceremony in the afternoon.

Department of Tourism 6 (Western Visayas) Director Crisanta Marlene P. Rodriguez noted in a previous press conference that participants would come from various parts of the country, including Mindanao—Zamboanga, Iligan, Sultan Kudarat, Davao—as well as Cebu and Manila.

Rodriguez added that the event will be held in the multiple-use zone of the marine reserve to prevent the destruction of marine corals. She also emphasized the strategic location of Guimaras, which, due to its proximity to nearby cities and provinces in the region, offers significant benefits for outdoor sports enthusiasts.

“It’s a different kind of event in the sense that it is a tourism event, but at the same time focuses on the conservation and protection of our marine environment,” she said.

Rodriguez underscored the importance of a functioning and healthy environment to promote tourism and highlighted that the event is family-friendly, designed to appeal to all ages and encourage community participation.

Provincial Board Member Felipe Hilan Nava, chair of the committee on tourism, history, and culture, highlighted the importance of hosting such an event for Guimaras.

“We are very fortunate that the province of Guimaras is hosting this event. This is our first time encountering such an activity, which helps promote the Guimaras industry,” he stated.

Highlighting the critical role of ecotourism, Nava stressed the need for increased advocacy and promotion to protect the environment.

“Our ecotourism is critical, and we need more advocacy and promotion to ensure the protection of our environment as we are facing many threats, both man-made and natural,” he noted.

Nava expressed hope that this activity would significantly boost tourism in Guimaras and sustain this program in the long term.

Nueva Valencia Mayor Paul Vicente G. De La Cruz expressed enthusiasm for the event, viewing it as an opportunity to showcase their municipality, which is labeled the tourism capital of the province.

“We see this as a significant opportunity to promote our tourism industry. The Taklong Island National Marine Reserve is a source of pride for our municipality,” he stated.

There will be no cash prizes from the organizers for the swim competition winners, as the event is primarily an advocacy initiative. However, the top three finishers will receive medals.

In partnership with the Zamboanga Open Water Swimming Club, Inc., the first two legs of the swim circuit took place in Sipalay City, Negros Occidental, on February 18, and Sicogon Island, Carles, Iloilo, on April 14. These events attracted both local and international swimmers, including participants as young as seven years old.

The fourth leg of the event is scheduled for September 22 on Boracay Island in Malay, Aklan.


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