Swimming Free, Palestine
Emad, Gareth and I walked to the
starting line at Wategos beach, near the
Byron Bay lighthouse.
As we entered the water with the other
swimmers, the organisers called off
the race because of treacherous
conditions. Loud speakers announced
that we would be ‘swimming at our
We swam anyway.
Many other swimmers did the same.
As we rounded the point from Wategos beach,
Emad was dumped by a two metre
wave and had to be rescued.
We wish to thank the selfless swimmers
who kept Emad afloat until the Surf Life
savers arrived in their Zodiac.
Gareth and I continued swimming wide
of the big breaking waves. I came
across Gareth and could hear him distinctly
above the sound of the waves
and a nearby surf boat — as Gareth took
each breath in mid-stroke he yelled:
‘Free Palestine, Free, Free Palestine‘.
About one kilometer further on we
arrived near main beach at Byron Bay
where we were both hammered by big
Gareth’s goggles were wiped off his
face and my swimming cap with the
Palestinian Flag emblem was lost in the
cauldron along with one of my flippers.
Gareth and I walked up the beach
alongside others swimmers saying how
their legs had cramped up as they came
into the beach.
We returned to the stall where Maxine
had spent the last hour engaging with
people asking questions about
Palestine and the campaign by MECA to
provide clean drinking water to children
in the West Bank.
We were happy to be re-united with
Emad who told the story of the bravery
of the swimmers who saved him in the
big swell. In his words he said ‘I
drowned’. But he was saved!
Some time later two young girls in
swimming costumes came up to the
stall holding my Palestinian flagged
swimming cap lost in the sea about 20
Maxine yelled out ‘Ian, these girls found
your cap!” I turned and asked how they
knew the cap was mine. The 11 year old
girl with braces on her teeth said she
and her friend saw the flag flying high
on the foreshore and looked at the flag
on the cap and put two-and-two
Gareth said: ‘What are the chances of
that happening!” and Maxine rewarded
the girls with a sumptuous home made
cake. Thanks girls!
We are swimming to raise money for
the Middle East Childrens’ Alliance so
Palestinian kids can have clean drinking
water despite Israel’s best efforts to
You can sponsor us by making
donations at MECA to help meet the
basic needs of Palestinian children and
give them opportunities to learn, play,
and envision a better future. Go to
A special thank you to Gareth and
Maxine for making this small
contribution to Palestinian kids lives
‘The Other Side’ by Phil Monsour on ‘Ghosts of Deir Yassin’ see http://www.philmonsour.com/