GEORGE TOWN - Swimming across the Penang Strait presents several challenges: heat, fatigue and waves.
However, swarms of stinging jellyfish proved to be an added obstacle for participants of the Penang International Cross Channel Swim held here yesterday for the first time in 27 years.
Zhang Xu Na, 61, from China, said she was stung numerous times during the 6.5km swim, which saw her finishing sixth in the Women's Open category.
"I was stung on my wrists and ankles," she said after clocking in at three hours, 41 minutes and 45 seconds.
Zhang was among 169 participants who took part in the race. Of the total, 146 participants were from China, followed by Malaysia (20), Singapore (two) and France (one).
The swim started at Pantai Bersih in Bagan Ajam on the mainland and ended near Jalan Sultan Ahmad Shah on the island.
The only female Malaysian participant was Tan Kuan Ling, who said she was encouraged by her swim coach to take up the challenge.
Tan, 42, a businesswoman from Bukit Mertajam, said she was also stung several times but was used to it, finishing second in the Women's Open category in three hours, two minutes and three seconds.
Frenchman Serge Dominichini, 48, who works in Kuala Lumpur as an oil and gas manager, emerged the Men's Open champion with a time of one hour, 47 minutes and 22 seconds.
"I was stung about five times on my wrists, abdomen, face and ankles," said Dominichini, who gamely accepted it as part of the challenge.
The event was organised by the Penang Amateur Swimming Association together with the Penang Sports Council and endorsed by the Penang government following expressions of interest from swimming associations in China a few months ago.