HONG KONG - Two thousand swimmers took to one of the world's busiest waterways in Hong Kong on Sunday to compete in a gruelling cross-harbour contest that traces its roots back more than a century.
Participants aged 12 to 75 raced from the Lei Yue Mun region of the Kowloon Peninsula to Quarry Bay on Hong Kong Island, in a course which stretches about 1.5 kilometres (0.93 miles).
Thousands of swimmers wearing colourful swimming caps dived into the waters of the iconic Victoria Harbour at 8:30am, replacing the normal waterway traffic of ferries and cargo boats.
For the next three hours, the harbour was dotted with participants swimming against the stunning backdrop of the Hong Kong skyline filled with skyscrapers and mountains lit up by the morning sun.
"The Harbour Race is part of the collective memory of Hong Kong people," Hong Kong Amateur Swimming Association vice president Ng Kin-sun said.
For 34-year-old IT engineer Billy Chau, the event was a rare chance to swim in the iconic waterway.
"I'm very happy to take part in the race because it is difficult to swim in Victoria Harbour and it's hard to have so many people swimming together," he said.
"It will be very memorable for me and my friends, I will think back to this experience when I'm older," added 26-year-old Candy Law, a public relations officer.
Last year's event saw an increase in the enrolment limit from 1,800 to 2,000 as well as the inclusion of a new category to attract the world's top swimmers.