The first two races of the Tahiti Swimming Experience got off to a fast start.
Highlighted by Aurélie Muller winning the women’s 5 km and a sprint to the finish victory by Logan Fontaine over Marc-Antoine Olivier, the race began as the tide was flooding into a bay at Mahina – Pointe Venus.
“The athletes caught the incoming tide and were absolutely flying through the breaks in the coral reef,” observed Steven Munatones. “It was fun to see everyone swimming so fast in the water that so clear and so impressive in its beauty.”
As they rounded Point Venus, they turned into the bay where the water conditions were alternatively tranquil and turbulent as the swimmers rounded the loop course 3 times. Close to shore, the water was smoother while the water turned choppy further out from shore.
“The coral and color of the water is so striking,” says Munatones. “What is even more remarkable is how the locals interact with the ocean and marine life around them.”
The Tahiti Swimming Experience Executive Manager Maeva Cavallo explained the importance of this marine focus. “People throughout Tahiti – especially those outside the capital of Papeete – still live the traditional life.
One of the important concepts of our culture is rāhui. We know when to fish for fish. We do not fish indiscriminately. The fish need time to go through their life cycle – and we do not want to overfish the population. We take the larger, older fish and allow the rest of the marine life to recover and regenerate naturally.
Rāhui – a socially acceptable limitation on fishing – is a way to conserve and maintain our valuable food resources from the ocean.”
Cavallo also incorporated the Moorea Coral Gardeners into the Tahiti Swimming Experience program since the ocean swims are among the coral reefs that ring around Tahiti and Mo’orea. “This association is led by 20-year-old Titouan Bernicot, 7 full-time employees and a growing number of volunteers.
These are people passionately concerned about the well-being of our lagoons and reefs. Global warming and human activity has led to the whitening of our coral so Titouan and friends launched coral cutting. The swimmers will take part in this replanting pieces of coral in the Tiahura Coral Garden in order to help it recover.
Visiting swimmers can help preserve first-hand our environment more sustainably together with the Tahitian Swimming Federation that works alongside the Moorea Coral Gardeners Association to preserve coral gardens in Polynesia. The young people introduce coral cutting and replanting to tourists and other environmental groups, but we also want the participants in the Tahiti Swimming Experience to take part.”
For more information on the Coral Gardeners, visit here.
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