British expat completes first ever 31 km-swim in Oman

Business Saturday 06/May/2017 21:25 PM
By: Times News Service
British expat completes first ever 31 km-swim in Oman

Alya Al Harthy/[email protected]

Muscat: An Oman school teacher has managed to swim from the Dimaniyat Islands to Al Mouj Marina, a first in the Sultanate.

Eric Block, a Maths teacher at the British School, Muscat, embarked on the difficult challenge of swimming the entire length between the Islands to the shore yesterday, which amounted to a distance of over 31 kilometres (km).

In just under 12 hours, he successfully arrived at the Marina at 6pm to cheers and accolades. Block had constant support throughout his journey.

"We went on the boat to the Dimaniyat Islands at dawn, and I started swimming from the Islands at 6am. My wife Emma and friend Richard were on the boat supporting me. We also had the boat captain, Abdullah, from Seaoman Charter, Dive and Watersports, who navigated the way to the Al Mouj Marina."

Halfway through the expected nine to 10 hour-swim, the weather worsened.

"The sea conditions became quite rough, and the wind kept changing directions. It was not at all a straight swim, which made things difficult, and made the swim longer than the 31km.”

"Essentially, I was following the boat the entire way. You don't see where you're going, and land isn't actually visible until you're closer to shore. So the captain navigated by compass the whole way," he said.

Block had only experienced the length of a seven-hour swim in the past, but embarked on this challenge in order to prepare for an even larger experience this summer.

"This swim was actually great training for my plan to swim the English Channel this summer. The swim actually proved that all of our planning and preparation worked. The support system was great, passing me supplies during breaks worked really well, and having experience with turbulent water was also good practice."

As per English Channel rules, Block will not be allowed to hold on to anything throughout the journey, so his breaks will be still within water.

"My wife would pass me supplies with a dog leash into the water, and I would take a break about every 35 minutes. I would stand close to the boat, and catch up on messages my wife was receiving. It was great because it was a lot of encouraging messages, funny jokes, and people cheering me on."

These breaks helped Block get through the arduous 12-hour physical feat.

"It definitely brightened the trip experience because you're otherwise swimming in complete isolation, and you'd only hear the sea, it was very quiet. The weather was also very hot, which I hope would be a better experience in the English Channel as the water temperature there would be lower," Block said.

Block will be swimming the English Channel between July 15 and 20, depending on the weather.

"This swim would've been 31 km if it were a straight line, and the shortest distance for the Channel swim would be 33km. Even with a difficult swim, this was a comparable, great step towards summer."