World Water Day 2008, Kecskemet
Early morning on March 29, 2008, swimmers of nine teams dived into the crystal waters of the Kecskemet Indoor Pool (Kecskemeti Fedett Uszoda
). The “12-hour Swim for Water
” organized by Kiskunsag National Park Directorate
received a warm welcome throughout Kecskemet and its vicinity, and besides 12 local institutions, companies, private businesses, and media, it also attracted a sponsor from Budapest.
The main purpose of the event was to draw attention to the importance of the waters and water habitats in the Kiskunsag
. However, thanks to the participants, another crucial factor came into plain view: the sensational moving power of people and communities that love and respect water
The teams consisted of water enthusiasts between ages 7 and 66, and team sizes ranged from 12 to 21 members.
Lane 1 was occupied by the team of the Foundation For Disabled Children Who Can Swim
(Usznitudo Mozgasserult Gyermekekert Alapitvany)
. Four of their swimmers were disabled, but all 16 of them were regulars at the swimming pool. They entered the 12-hour swim to show their fitness and endurance, and to give proof of the success of the Foundation’s program. Zoltan Palinkas arrived in a wheelchair, but he put in a total of 3 hours of swimming for his team. The rest of the 12 hours were covered with the help of parents and with length contributions from the other teams and the organizers.
Next-door neighbors of the Foundation were the Friends of
European Masters Champion swimmer, Laszlo Hajdu
. The professional swimmers on Hajdu’s team included an Iron Man as well, who took on the Budapest-Kecskemet commute for the day, so that he may participate in the event. "Water is life, water is our life”- could be the motto of the team’s burning passion for swimming.
On lane 3, ambitious students of Katedra IT and Arts Technical College
(Katedra Informatikai es Muveszeti Szakkozepiskola
) were making a bold statement. The team bearing the nickname "Hydrophobia”
) was definitely not afraid of water. On the contrary, these students interested in information technology and in the fine arts clearly felt themselves at home in the pool, thus proving that logic, arts, and sports can team up just fine.
Teams Bolyai 1
and Bolyai 2
on lanes 4 and 8b were alumni and present students of the local Bolyai Grammar School (Bolyai gimnazium
). They were all hobby swimmers, but their love for water brought them together for the event, without fear that they might look odd among the professionals.
Children between 9 and 13 from the Vasarhelyi Elementary School
came in the company of water-polo coach, Imre Gorog. They demonstrated their skills and élan on lane 5.
One of the event’s sponsors, Bacsviz CC
. contributed a 21-people swim team as well to the "competition”. The average age of the team was 35, the youngest swimmer being 7 years old, and the oldest 52. Employees of the company fully attested their commitment to community involvement: 3 of their swimmers also participated in the Half Marathon Run organized by a local elementary school on this same day.
Another team of professional swimmers, the “Water Fleas”
of the Kecskemet Waterworks Sports Club
) lined up 12 young swimmers and their two coaches. The youngest member of their team was only 9 years old.
Lane 8 was split between the teams of the Reformed Elementary School Kecskemet
(Kecskemeti Reformatus Altalanos Iskola
) and Bolyai 2. The "Refy” team was made up of grammar school alumni and present students, accompanied by one of their teachers and her family. The whole team comprised of swimmers, former swimmers, their parents, and their coaches.
The stamina of the teams was tested not only in the water but also in water-related quizzes and competitions in between. Participants in the instructional- and skill games won extra "lengths” for their teams, and the rest of the party was also entertained by a scuba diving demonstration or by one of the environmental documentaries screened on the premises.
All 9 teams fulfilled their commitment to a 12-hour swim, with the following results:
- Katedra IT and Arts Technical College: 630 points
- Bolyai 1: 705 points
- Bolyai 2: 619 points
- Bacsviz: 660 points
- KVSC Water Fleas: 947 points
- Reformed Elementary School: 789 points
- Vasarhelyi Elementary School: 680 points
The Foundation For Disabled Children Who Can Swim and Laszlo Hajdu’s team did not participate in the competition; they just came to support the World Water Day event and to demonstrate their love towards water and swimming.
Based on the point totals, the top three teams were:
- 1st place: KVSC Water Fleas – they offered their prize, the all-inclusive weekend stay at Kiskunsag National Park’s field school to the Foundation For Disabled Children Who Can Swim.
- 2nd place: Reformed Elementary School
- 3rd place: Bolyai 1
Professional and hobby swimmers between ages 7 and 66 took on the 12-hour challenge spiced up with the thrill of the competition, and in teams of 12 to 21 people completed the trying task. Thus, we can say with a clear conscience that Everybody Won. The total of the lengths swum by the 7 teams in the competition came to 4.443, or 222 km and 150 m, over 138 miles
. This means that they swum from Kecskemet to Nagykanizsa, from the middle of Hungary to close to the western border
The 50-meter long pool could have given room for another 7 teams, and participants and organizers alike are hopeful for a full house in the years to follow. The Kecskemet World Water Day Swim is expected to grow into a movement involving the whole city and its vicinity. A warm thank you to all participants, supporters, and sponsors. Same time, same place, next year
The 12-hour swim for water – World Water Day 2008 Kecskemet was proudly sponsored by