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Rotary Charity Cross Bay Swim raises much needed funds for humanitarian projects

Rotary Charity Cross Bay Swim raises much needed funds for humanitarian projects
Reprinted from Pattaya Mail, Friday, 30 March 2012 by Paul Strachan
Children ensured clean water, education and a chance for a better future

The overcast skies above Pattaya were a welcome sight for the swimmers and organizers of the 8th Rotary Charity Pattaya Cross Bay swim held on Sunday, March 25.

The Rotary Club of Jomtien-Pattaya usually holds this event towards the end of the year; however, the floods that devastated Thailand last year meant that they focused their attention in helping the flood victims.
Nic Wilson (main photo) races home under stormy skies, wining the 3.5 km swim across Pattaya Bay.
10-year-old Erika Heltne won the short fun swim, whilst Aleksei Balykov won the 1.3 km intermediate swim.
The true winners, however, are the children as proceeds from the event will go to ensure clean water,
education and a chance for a better future for those less fortunate in our community.
So with only a few weeks in the planning, the club along with the swimmers gathered at the Hard Rock Hotel Pattaya for the official opening ceremony.

The club’s president, Gudmund Eiksund officially opened the event with a short speech, followed by Past District Governor Peter Malhotra and Radchada Chomjinda, director of the Human Help Network Foundation Thailand.
President Gudmund Eiksund makes his report to the swimmers and guests,
before declaring the commencement of Rotary Charity Cross Bay Swim 2012.

This year’s event consisted of three races; the first was a fun race from the Hard Rock along to Chaba Beach at Dusit Thani. This category was made for those who wanted to participate but not really compete.

The police were on hand to ensure that the traffic was managed to allow the swimmers and spectators to cross Beach Road safely, and as the whistle blew the sea rescue team was a safe distance away on paddle boards and jet skis to make sure the swimmers were all okay.

The winner of this heat was 10-year-old Erika Heltne, followed by 12-year-old Ratchaphol Nantanakarn in second place and Vasavan Thititamornrat in third place who is also 12 years old.


Philip Wall Morris and PP Brendan Kelly, without whom the event would not have been possible.



All the swimmers were presented with a medal, souvenir t-shirt and organizers made sure that they had plenty of water to drink.

Back at the Hard Rock, swimmers were getting ready for the 1.3km swim. In this category the swimmers had to swim out past the buoy that marks the safe swim zones along Pattaya Beach, then make their way to the beach at the Dusit.




Radchada Chomjinda is thrilled that ‘her children’ were able to participate in the charity swim.

A 38-year-old Russian man named Aleksei Balykov came in first with a winning time of 18 minutes and forty seconds, and just under two minutes later was 14-year-old Liam Samuels, closely followed by 37-year-old Mark Lunev. The first female was Mark’s wife, Natalia, with a time of just 20 minutes and fifty seconds.

By now the other more competitive swimmers were receiving a briefing way over on the other side of the bay near the sea rescue unit close to Bali Hai pier, as they got ready to navigate the 3.5 km swim across Pattaya Bay to the beach at the Dusit.

The skies that had been overcast all morning started to darken and a few specks of rain were starting to blow through.

This didn’t deter the twenty or so swimmers who set off with much gusto, and back at the beach at the Dusit all the spectators were keeping a keen eye on the sea rescue teams who were travelling along beside the swimmers.

PDG Peter Malhotra and Pol.Lt.Col. Jirawat Sukonthasap, Head of the City Hall Security & Safety Services,


discuss the precautionary measures taken to ensure the safety of swimmers and guests both on and off shore.


The first swimmer was soon in sight and with a winning time of 42 minutes and 11 seconds, five times winner Nic Wilson ran up onto the beach claiming victory.

Nic is a swimming coach at Patana International School in Bangkok and it was one of his students, 15-year-old Luc Gebbie who came in second, a mere 50 seconds behind his tutor.
Graham Hunt-Crowley presents the Men’s Champion Trophy (3.5 km) to Nic Wilson.

In third place was Adounis Cedolin at 58 minutes and 27 seconds and in the ladies category were Hannah Way in first place coming in at just over one hour followed by Kristina Solheim, then Alena Vigada and Nook Buranasiri.

With over a dozen swimmers still out in the water the sea rescuers offered to take them on board as by now there were rumblings of thunder and the waves were getting high. However, the majority decided to continue and finish the race, safe in the knowledge that the sea rescue team was keeping a close eye on them.

Hannah Way, the Women’s Champion (3.5 km) receives her trophy from Martin Brands.

Once everybody was back on dry land and accounted for they were treated to lunch at the Dusit whilst the administrators complied the winning places and others enjoyed the ice cold beer sponsored by Paulaner Bier.

Paulaner was one of the many sponsors for the event. Others included Thai Airways International, Securitas, Pattaya Mail, Dusit Thani Pattaya, Dusit d2 Baraquda, Hard Rock Hotel, CEA Projects Norwegian Properties Group, The Tulip Group and Bangkok Hospital Pattaya.

Natalia Lunev was first in the 1.3 km event.

The event was also given the full support of City Hall, Pattaya Sea Rescue Unit, Sawang Boriboon Thamasathan Foundation and the Pattaya Tourist Volunteers.

Then it was the matter of the prize giving where the trophies were awarded and thanks given to all the sponsors and those who had helped make this a special day, one that raises funds to support the clean drinking water and many other humanitarian projects across the province.

(l-r) Aleksei Balykov, Liam Samuels and Mark Lunev are winners in men’s division of the 1.3 km race.

Well done Rotary Club of Jomtien-Pattaya! A special mention must be made of Brendan Kelly and Phillip Wall Morris, the dynamic duo who worked with the same focus to create fun events that people of all ages can participate in and raise money for charity at the same time.

Proudly holding their trophies are (l-r) Mark Lunev, Natalia Lunev, Hannah Way, Kristina Solheim, Liam Samuels, Aleksei Balykov, Adounis Cedolin, Nic Wilson, Alena Vigada, Nook Buranasiri and Luc Gebbie, with Ken Whitty (far right) our generous sponsor ‘Paulaner’.

Congratulations are in order for President Gudmund Eiksund (front centre) and his team of hard working volunteers including Rotarians, family, friends and staff that helped make the charity event a huge success.



here was heart pounding action during all the 3 swim events.


The beaches of the Hard Rock and the Dusit Thani Pattaya were buzzing with activity throughout the day.

Swimmers young and older were cheered on to the finish line
where they received their medals, a dry towel and a cold drink.