Courtesy of Maureen Holohan, Ile des Arcadins, Haiti.

Swim for Haiti is a 1.5 km ocean swim and a 10 km marathon swim in Haiti held on January 27th 2019. The event, part of the Global Swim Series, is a charity swim that helps raise awareness of Haiti as a tourism destination and to raise money to help Haitian children learn how to swim.

Maureen Holohan, a former basketball player and founder of Mo’ Motion [shown on left], finished fifth overall in 3 hours 21 minutes in the 10 km race. She described her first marathon swim experience. “If you’ve always wanted to do a 1.5 km or 10 km swim and/or want to do more events, and you’ve wanted to do some good in Haiti while meeting cool people from around the world, Swim for Haiti is the perfect event for you. It will also keep you motivated and in shape during the winter.

After participating last year, my first distance swim, [it was] a remarkable experience. Aside from the beauty of the swim, I was moved by all the inspirational people I met along the way – from the construction worker on the airplane who was taking a week off to donate his time to his dentist friend next to him – and to all the volunteers, missionaries and EMTs and nurses.

As you know the circumstances in Haiti are dire for millions. Unemployment is estimated to be as high as 80%.

Yearly minimum wage in Haiti is US$817. There are limited opportunities to move upward. Often people say the only way to make it in Haiti is to leave. Haiti is a country that relies heavily on disaster relief, which means it is waiting on the next disaster for the world to pay attention. Often times, there is controversy as to who truly receives the funding and how much of it.

What can we do?

First, we can recognize and support the efforts of the people there like Jim Chu, a Stanford grad and founder of Swim for Haiti, who left his digital job in Silicon Valley after he volunteered to help after the 2010 earthquake. Jim believed that the best investment in the country would be to build self-sustaining business models in the areas with the greatest need. He started with a water purification business that produces clean water and teaches locals how to be merchants.

Second, we can spend our dollars as tourists in Haiti.

By traveling to Haiti and spending money while staying at a beautiful resort with fun and fit people, we are showing Haitians that we value their business and hard work.

Swim for Haiti is an annual open water swim to promote the beauty and adventure of Haiti. Proceeds also support Haitian youth who are learning how to swim. Jim will give guests a tour of how he built water purification systems for locals in Haiti and Rwanda. Some guests have opted into the walking or driving tour the mountains and stayed to see the local museums or ones in Port-au-Prince.

Last year, 28 swimmers competed in the 10 km, ranging from these experienced swimmers to first-timers like me. The 1.5 km race saw 70 participants ages 10 and up. It’s a nice alternative for those who don’t do distance, but still want to go.”

Swim for Haiti:
Distances: 1.5 km and 10 km unassisted or assisted (fins, snorkel, paddles allowed)
Escort crew: Creole-speaking fisherman in a dugout canoe are escorts for the duration of the 10 km swim
Cost: US$120 for the 10 km – US$60 for the 1.5 km course along the shore
Accommodations: Wahoo Bay Beach resort, Moulin Sur with airport pickup

2018 Unassisted 10 km Top 3 Results:
1. Diego López Dominguez (Spain) 2 hours 28 minutes [shown above]
2. Devon Peavoy (Canada) 2 hours 53 minutes [first woman]
3. Bill Ireland (USA) 3 hours

2018 Assisted 10 km Top 3 Results:
1. Piers Clark (UK) 2 hours 53 minutes
2. Pierre Coté (Canada) 3 hours 12 minutes
3. Angus Clark (UK) 3 hours 25 minutes

2018 Unassisted 1.5 km Top 3 Results:
1. Spencer Driscoll (USA) 16 minutes
2. Danielle Bisseck (USA) 19 minutes
3. Antony Noel (Haiti) 20 minutes​

2018 Assisted 1.5 km Top 3 Results:
1. Dominique Carvonis (Haiti) 20 minutes
2. Krystele Carvonis (Haiti) 25 minutes
3. Tyler Bisseck (USA) 27 minutes

For more information, visit swimforhaiti.org. For Holohan’s first-person account of her 10 km marathon, visit here.

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