CLEEVAN Kayne Alegres stands 5-foot-3 and weighs 121 pounds. When asked in an interview after he completed the 25-kilometer Olango Island swim what he wanted to be called, he paused, thought of a nickname and said... Little Merman!
Bright. The Little Mermaid, as known from the Disney movie, is derived from an 1837 book by the Danish author Hans Christian Andersen. It was a fairy tale.
On April 25, it will be another fairy tale — this time, a real life tale of Cebu’s very own “Little Merman” attempting to encircle Mactan Island using only his God-given legs and arms. The around-Mactan swim is expected to cover the length of between 40 to 45 kilometers.
Swimming for 40+ kilometers — this sounds ridiculous. If you consider that a marathon road race spans 42 kilometers — I’ve done a bunch of those runs and they’re tough — how much more in a horizontal position.
OLANGO SWIM. Two weeks ago (on April 4) when Cleevan swam the 10-hour-long adventure around Olango Island, he experienced moments of hallucination.
“A dolphin was swimming beside me,” Cleevan said. “It was past 1 a.m. and I had been swimming for over 20 kilometers. It was only later that I realized that they were only coconuts floating nearby.”
Cleevan’s 25K “practice swim” provided him with several lessons before his 42K “main event” on April 25.
Lesson No. 1: music helps.
“A boombox is important,” he said. “I’ll ask my companions on the paddle board and pump boat to play music during the swim. Swimming in the middle of the night and for many hours.. I need music.”
Bright head lamps so his path won’t be too dark, said Cleeven, will also help.
With the swim pacers, Cleevan plans to ask four swimmers to accompany him. But this time, instead of asking them to join him at the start, they’ll form a relay team with each pacer swimming eight kilometers. The ones who’ve enlisted as pacers include Reinwalk Ebora, Albert Godinez, Ryan Galo and Jaron Earl Bilangdal.
ADVOCACY. When I spoke to Cleevan for nearly half an hour 10 days ago, he was very passionate about the reason for this exploit.
“My advocacy is to raise awareness and get rid of the garbage at sea,” said Cleevan. “I live right beside the water; our house is very near the J Park Resort. Where I live in Maribago, I am able to collect as much as two sacks of garbage every day.”
Cleevan will embark on his 42K marathon swim at 5 p.m. on April 25 — near the 500th anniversary of the Battle of Mactan. It’s a symbolic date. But the bigger symbol that the 25-year-old is attempting to achieve is this: We need to clean our seas and not throw plastics, junk or rubbish into it.
Cleevan wants to make sure that his swim will include passing along the Mactan Channel. While he previously only wore swim trunks, this time, for that stretch, he will have to wear a full suit.
The reason is shocking and depressing.
“Hugaw, baho, lubog, daghan mag lutaw-lutaw bisag unsa, ang lapok itom pas black,” Cleevan said, of the Mactan Channel. How sad.
Let’s hope that the swim of Cleevan Alegres will not only be historic but will help raise awareness to clean our seas and save the oceans.