June, 21, 2007 - 05:50AM


Monte swims from Sengigi to Gili Trawangan

As part of Walk the World 2007 ocean swimmer Monte Monfore achieved another world first, swimming from Lombok to Gili Tranwangan Island in Indonesia.

His 7-kilometer Lombok Fight Hunger Swim follows last year’s Bali Fight Hunger Swim, where he swam a world record double-crossing of the 4-kilometer Bali Strait.

The 46-year-old humanitarian swimmer began his swim at Malimbu Beach in northwest Lombok under the predawn darkness at 5:45am. Prior to the start he spoke about the goal of the World Food Programme and the United Nations Millennium Campaign to end child hunger by 2015.

In a pre-swim announcement Monte, who lives on the neighboring island of Bali, said, “This swim is to give a voice to the world’s hungry, especially hungry children.” Before entering the black ocean water under the moon and stars the native Californian dedicated his swim to his “wonderful” mother, Carol Monfore, who recently passed away from cancer in the United States.

As Monte began swimming a fluorescent light stick attached to his swimsuit enabled support and media boats to keep sight of the intrepid swimmer in the predawn darkness. The ocean surface was calm and placid as the endurance athlete’s smooth and powerful stokes carried him out into the channel. As the sky lightened a strong current in the opposite direction became visible. Although a kilometer out to sea the marathon swimmer was having difficulty breaking away from starting point Lombok Island. Guessing the unpredictable waters of the channel incorrectly Monte was forced to swim against a strong current nearly the entire crossing. The current was so strong he was often not moving forward and sometimes even pulled backwards while swimming at a high pace. It took all of his strength to beat the current at times, the determined athlete said.

“I’ve had some difficult swims before, but this was the toughest by far. There were times I didn’t think I was going to make it. I’m extremely thankful to support crew and the media for continuously cheering me on. I feel very fortunate the conditions were calm. Had there been wind and chop I would have never made it.”

Approaching Gili Trawangan Island Monte was again faced with a rushing current pulling him backwards. With a final burst of energy he swam at full pace to break the channel’s grip. At 7:55am, after two hours 10 minutes fighting the strong current, the swimmer stepped out of the turquoise water onto the shore at event sponsor Hotel Vila Ombak. Exhausted, but elated, he was cheered by a crowd of more than 50 locals and tourists.

Approximately every 15 minutes during the swim Monte stopped 10-20 seconds to consume energy drinks. He strictly adhered to the rules of ocean swimming: no fins, no wetsuit, and no touching the support boat. The swimmer suffered numerous jellyfish stings during the crossing, he said.

Following the swim Monte spoke to the media. When asked how he felt he replied, I’m very tired, but feel good, and happy. This swim is about something very serious, however, which is world hunger, and specifically child hunger. The statistics on hunger are shocking. Every 5 seconds somewhere in the world a child dies because of lack of food. This means that in the 2 and a half hours I was swimming roughly 2000 children died. And while you were sleeping last night another 6000 children died. Every year 6 million children die of hunger. But something can be done about this tragedy. For only 19 cents a day children can be provided nutritious meals with the World Food Programme ‘Global School Feeding Programme’. And $US34 will feed a child for an entire school year. I ask everyone to please donate generously.

Nearly every Indonesian TV station attended the event. Footage of the Lombok Fight Hunger Swim was sent to broadcasters worldwide by Reuters Television. Sponsored by Circle K, Adidas, Pocari Sweat, Oakley, Motorola, communications provider XL, Indo Multi Media, Lombok Hotels Association, Hotel Vila Ombak, Holiday Resort Lombok, Tauch Terminal, Alam Anda, Bali Deli, and Paradise Property, this was the world record ocean swimmer’s fourth United Nations-related swim in the past year. Sponsorship supports Bali-based Advice For Life Orphanage and Bali Community Cares.

Continuing his series of endurance swims in support of the United Nations Millennium Campaign, later this year Monte plans an Environmental Sustainability/Anti-Global Warming Swim, and an HIV/AIDS Awareness Swim supporting the Bali Community Cares organization for children of HIV/AIDS patients.

Monte is one of our FightHunger Champions.

Visit www.monteswimmer.com for more info and donations.