Surprised faces on jet skis, dhows and yachts near Al-Safliya Island watched as three long-distance swimmers, three supporting kayaks and one stand-up paddler reached the shore of the island.
Carly-Jane Figgis, Bruno Gilbert and Jeroen Brons, keen competitive members of Angry Dragons Qatar, a dragon boat club in Doha, had put themselves to sea for 90 minutes from Viva Bahriya beach and swam no less than 3.2kms.
They concluded a journey that started in January when the swimmers set themselves for the ‘Al-Safliya Swim Challenge’ as part of their pledge for Qatar Green Building Council’s ‘Sustainability Week’ starting from tomorrow.
Carly-Jane, the only female swimmer said: “We were supposed to do a long swim only as a preparation for our crossing to the island this weekend to coincide with the start of the Sustainability Week but we were so close that we decided to push it all the way across the channel.”
Initially a 600m swim to the bay barrier and back was like reaching the end of the world and would be celebrated with glee, but rapidly the regular distances increased to 2km and up, once to 5km.
Neither choppy water, high water temperatures nor an occasional jellyfish would shrink the training spirit of the swimmers, who see long distance open water swimming as a way to exercise in nature, in a rhythmic cadence of a wide variety of muscles.
On the day itself, Giselle Reis, Ewa Merchel, Abhi Mukherji and Kasia Muniak, dragon boaters themselves, supported with kayaks and one SUP, for safety, carrying water and moral support.
With the three swimmers they formed a diverse group of six nationalities, a beautiful cultural diversity so typical in Qatar.
The diversity of life was also visible in the salty water, as they encountered little crabs on the shoreline, tropical fishes of various sizes near the rocks and a sea turtle.
A short break on the island enabled them to enjoy amazing views of the Doha skyline, before returning to the mainland, completing 6.4km in three hours of swimming and having burnt over 2,000 calories.