Pages: 25K swimming conquest

John Pages
·3 min read

Cleevan Kayne Alegres circumnavigated Olango Island last week. He did not walk, paddle-board or sail around Olango — he swam all of it: 25,420 meters of swimming.

“My farthest distance before the Olango swim was 14 kilometers,” he told me in our 28-minute-long talk last Thursday.

Cleevan’s ultimate goal is to encircle the entire Mactan island — a 40 to 45K swim — later this month to commemorate the 500th anniversary of the Battle of Mactan.

With the 25K swim in Olango, he told me, “Kalit-kalit ra to because I needed to swim a longer distance.”

Starting at 3:30 p.m. last April 4, Cleevan completed the trek by swimming for 9 hours and 59 minutes. He had to stop for two hours at the latter part of the expedition because he was separated from his accompanying pump boat.

Starting at Sta. Rosa port, he ended at the same spot at 3:30 a.m. He swam a big portion of the 25K in total darkness.

“I swam at night because of the tides,” he said. “I studied the tide chart and currents and they’re favorable at night.”

“I’m used to spear-fishing in the evenings and night-diving,” said Cleevan, whose house sits right beside the waters of Mactan (behind JPark Resort). “I’m not scared of the dark while swimming.”

He did not wear a full-body wetsuit but opted for the barest of barest: swimming trunks.

“Swimming for 10 hours, there were plenty of jellyfish, but I just ignored them,” said Cleevan, who believes his achievement was 40 percent physical and 60 percent mental.

Cleevan was accompanied by a team. At portions of the route, he was joined by swimmers Jason Earl Bilangdal, Ryan Galo and Reinwald Ebora. There were three stand-up paddler teams that included his girlfriend Gillan Mae Sayson, his sister Eaa, and friends Saysay Silawan, Janjan Cañete and Tado Amit. A pump boat glided nearby.

Cleevan did not eat during the 25K challenge. He did not take caffeinated drinks because of a heart condition that started when he was a baby; for two months after he was born, he was in the incubator.

Today, his heart palpitates if he takes coffee.

The only nutrition that fueled him was the supplement brand Vitargo, recommended by lawyer Ingemar Macarine, the “Pinoy Aquaman.” During the swim, Cleevan took sips of the carbo-electrolytes supplement every 20 to 25 minutes.

Swimming is a lonely sport. I asked Cleevan how he survived the mental anguish of floating at sea for 10 hours.

“I thought of my veterinary studies,” said the fifth-year junior clinician at SWU-Phinma. “While swimming, I tried to remember the lessons and kept on repeating them. I also sang, in my mind, my favorite

songs. (These included the songs “Inspector Mills” and “Superman” by singer Five for Fighting.)

“I counted 1 to 1,000. I thought about my future plans. I prayed to the Lord to help my tiredness. At the 20K mark, I experienced hallucination and thought that a dolphin was swimming beside me...”

(To be continued.)