The History Of The Bangla Channel
Kabir of Extreme Bangla continues to carry on the legacy of Haque, an underwater photographer and scuba diver from Bangladesh. Kabir and Shwaroz Adventure is co-organizing the 2018 International Bangla Channel Marathon Swim, a 16.1 km race across the Bangla Channel from Teknaf to St. Martin’s Island in Bangladesh’s Bay of Bengal.
Haque guessed that the first attempt at the 16.1 km course was at best 50-50. As an established underwater photographer, Haque piqued the interest of his concept among Kabir and his colleagues Rafiqul Islam, Lipton Sarker, Salman Saeed and Kamal Anwar Babu. The young members of Daccabasecamp decided to take on Haque’s challenge.
Under the leadership of Haque, Daccabasecamp took an exploratory boat trip along the course in a 33-foot boat from Dhaka to St. Martin’s Island on December 23rd 2004. A little over a year later, swimmers Kabir, Saeed and Sarker were escorted by Islam, Anwar Babu, Akm Shahidullah, Towhid and Rashid on the inaugural attempt.
The trio of swimmers began at 8 am from Shahpuri Island. They hit high tide for an hour and reached St. Martin’s Island, fighting against a strong current nearly the entire duration of 5 hours 10 minutes.
Between the inaugural crossing in 2006 until 2011, the distance of the Bangla Channel swim was only 14.4 km where the participating swimmers used fins and snorkels.
But in 2012, the distance was increased to 16.1 km, making the swim a bit more difficult and stretching from the Teknaf fisheries jetty to the St. Martin’s Island jetty.
The 2012 event saw Milko van Gool become the first non-Bangladeshi and first person without fins to complete the swim. This year’s race is held on March 19th where 25 local and foreign swimmers will attempt their own crossing of the Bangla Channel.
Kabir explains, “The year 2018 will be the 13th edition of Bangla Channel Crossing. We have named it Fortune Bangla Channel Swimming 2018 – 13th Edition. We always have been trying to train the youth of our society to develop an interest into open water sea swimming. This year, youth from Dhaka of different age groups and different walks of life demonstrated their love for and interest in open water swimming training. They underwent vigorous training in a 120 meter tank and pond situated at Dhaka University S.S Jahurul Huq Hall where the training continued for five days a week for a year.
They students had to test themselves to do non-stop freestyle for a minimum of four hours. They also learned how to hydrate themselves during swimming.
We have also included 13 numbers of young male and female swimmers from up north of Bangladesh – Rangpur and Bogra – as part of nationwide development plan for open water sea swimmers [see below]. We intend to carry on nationwide swimming campaign to include all 64 districts of Bangladesh for our future sea events in a bid to create a platform for open water sea swimmers of Bangladesh.
We are also making ourselves prepared through Bangla Channel to cross the international open water channels as well as the seventh ocean. Our intention is to create a healthy society of Bangladeshis through open water sea swimming which we believe in our heart very much possible. We consider Bangla Channel Swimming as part of our blue economy.
In the past years, there were only a handful of people who would dare to cross the Bangla Channel. Only exception is this year where we are getting a good response from youth who are showing interest in crossing Bangla Channel.”
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