Two young doctors cross the Bangla Channel
Two doctors have swam across the Bangla Channel, the 16.1km stretch of the Bay of Bengal between the Teknaf Fisheries Jetty and the jetty in Saint Martin's Island, claiming to be the first ever doctors to do so in the country.
They are Dr Saklayen Russel, associate professor and head of the Department of Vascular Surgery at Ibrahim Cardiac Hospital and Research Institute Associate and Dr Zanzibul Tareq, cardiovascular surgeon at the National Institute of Cardiovascular Diseases (NICVD).
They started swimming from Paschimpara beach on Shahpari Island in Teknaf, the southernmost border of the country, at 11:15am on Monday (December 20).
Marking the golden jubilee of Bangladesh's independence, 79 swimmers attempted to cross the Bangla Channel this time. However, as the sea was rough, 25 swimmers quit half way through the course.
Dr Saklayen Russel told The Daily Star, "We are the first doctors in the country to have crossed the Bangla Channel. It took six hours and 41 minutes for me achieve the feat and Dr Tareq did it in six hours and 50 minutes."
Asked why he decided to swim across the channel, he said that due to his eye ailment his doctor advised him to take a pause in his daily workout.
"I asked my doctor if I could swim instead of running and jogging, the doctor said I can. Then I started swimming. But you know if you do not have a target and motivation, workout becomes monotonous. Then I decided that I would cross the Bangla Channel," he said.
"Since we are doctors, we wanted to make people aware through swimming. Secondly, St Martin has been declared ecologically endangered. But to protect a place like this, the government and the people have to work together. The government must act on maintaining ecological balance," said Dr Saklayen.
Asked how he prepared himself for swimming, Dr Saklayen said, "I had been preparing for it for the last six months. I took preparation under Saiful Islam Russell, who has crossed the Bangla channel twice before."
Bangladesh Edible Oil Limited Brand Fortune, was the main sponsor of 16th Bangla Channel Swimming Competition. Bangladesh Coast Guard was the rescue partner. Partners include Bangladesh Tourism Corporation, Bangladesh Tourism Board, United Securities, South Bangla Agriculture and Commerce Bank Limited, Sharaj Adventure, VISAThing and Studio Dhaka.
Notably, late Kazi Hamidul Haque, famous for his adventures, discovered this channel in the Bay of Bengal. Lipton Sarkar, Fazlul Kabir and Salman Saeed crossed the channel for the first time in 2006.