Swimming Free Palestine!


Swimming 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 race organisers called off the race because of treacherous conditions. Loud speakers announced that we would be 'swimming at your own risk'. We swam anyway. Many other swimmers did the same. As we rounded the point at Wategos, 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 at one point yelling out to him above the sound of the waves and a nearby surf boat - as Gareth took each breath in mid-stroke he replied 'Free Palestine, Free, Free Palestine'. About one kilometre further on we arrived near main beach at Byron Bay where we were both hammered by big breaking waves. Gareth's googles 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 minutes earlier. 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 together. 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 desiccate them. 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 https://www.mecaforpeace.org A special thank you to Gareth and Maxine for making this small contribution to Palestinian kids lives possible. Free Palestine!