2.5 KM Open Water Swim in Lobo, Batangas | Swim Junkie Challenge

It's been 6 years since I joined an open water event (Swimjunkie Caramoan post here) and though I haven't stopped swimming for fun since, I missed joining races that offer beautiful and challenging swim courses.  Now on its 5th year, the Swimjunkie Challenge : VIP Lobo features a route passing the Verde Island Passage in Lobo, Batangas. Recognized as the World's Center of Marine Shorefish Biodiversity, it's known for its abundant marine life and interestingly for swimmers, strong currents! 

I joined a  shorter distance, a 2.5 KM and for the first time, swam alongside my younger sister. 

This swim, organized by Swimjunkie headed by Coach Betsy Medalla came with a worthwhile cause: 

"Perpetually under threat from overfishing, industrial operations, and pollution, the quiet beachside municipality of Lobo Batangas has shown the foresight to nurture more sustainable, environmentally responsible sources of income. Such as sports tourism. Because what happens in Lobo, happens to the Verde Island Passage." 

Checking out the finish line

On the day of the race, we got up at 4:30 AM for a light breakfast of Pocari Sweat and bananas. After getting our bodies marked, we went into the water and finally - the actual swim!  As the beach is filled with big rocks and pebbles, everyone had to start in the water to avoid injuries. 

final briefing before the race started

Unexpectedly, the nerves came. I was caught off-guard and it felt like I was hit by huge waves that instantly swept me under - it was hard to breathe. My anxiety was so strong,  I could't move my arms. I thought of backing out while the shore was just a few feet away. We had trained months prior, swimming 2-3x/week so it would have been a shame to just quit, but anxiety has this way of crippling you and making you think you're incapable of doing something you can actually do.  Great thing my sister was there to calm me and urged me to push on. 

 I swam one stroke at a time, stopping frequently to breathe on an upright position. At this point, we were at the very tail of the bunch with the faster swimmers already 100 meters ahead. I started to pray. Thankfully,  after about 10 minutes, I got over the anxiety and swam to my heart's delight. The view of mountains and the sun's rays hitting the shoreline on my right side was beautiful! As we passed a kilometer, the underwater life became more interesting. I reveled in the view of corals, fishes and even a big jellyfish! 

My sister and I planned to swim and cross the finish line together but since we were swimming slowly, we got caught up with the current. Soon, we found ourselves facing bigger waves,  getting swept off course several times. We got separated about 200 meters from the finish line and it was hard to find each other in the water. 

the race course. One length was 2.5 KM so 5 KM swimmers had to swim 2 loops.

I finished the 2.5KM swim at 1:45:08 and ranked 153 of 186 finishers in the 2.5KM over-all category, a slow time but enough to make it to the cut-off. I'm happy and looking forward to joining more open water swims in the future. 

The Swimjunkie Challenge: VIP LOBO 2023 was held on May 28, 2023. If you're keen on joining open water events in the Philippines, follow these accounts on Social Media : 

Facebook : Swimjunkie Challenge  | Philippine Open Water Swimming - POWS | Philippine Openwater Swim Crossings Association (if you're keen on swimming 3.5KM of the Maricaban strait in Batangas)

Instagram : @swimjchallenge

Where to Stay in Lobo, Batangas

The day before the event, we traveled with our support group - our friends and family. Due to room availability, we had to check-in 2 separate hotels. Since the starting line was at Punta Malabrigo beach resort, we stayed in nearby Cerca Parola, while the rest of the family checked-in at Time Travellers resort, a 12-minute drive.  Both offered simple but clean rooms with beach access, a pool and each own's salient features. Cerca Parola has a simple restaurant that offered affordable, delicious food and aromatic brewed barako coffee and is close to other dining establishments,  while Time Traveller,  located  a little off the main road offered a quieter atmosphere and a nice sandy beachfront.  We had booked both resorts online through the race organizers. 

Past adventures

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