Historic nine mile relay swim takes place today from Aunu’u to Tutuila

Alesana Eti Alesana ‘Tank’ (L) and Daniel Saifoloi, instructors for the Toa o le Tai Ocean Heroes Program and Ocean Swimming/Ocean Science Class at Samoana High School will be part of a team of six swimmers from Toa o le Tai Ocean Heroes and Marine Patrol, who will be making an historic 9 mile relay swim from Aunu’u Island to Utulei Beach Park this morning beginning at 9 a.m. [photo: Jeff Hayner]

Today at 9 a.m. marks the beginning of the Fagatele Bay National Marine Sanctuaries/National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) ‘Ocean Week (Our Island’s Ocean Is Life)’, and it will start with a historic relay swim from Aunu’u island to Utulei Beach Park, with a team of swimmers from the Toa o le Tai Ocean Heroes Program.

Joining them will be swimmers from the Department of Public Safety Marine Patrol, who will be taking on this historic nine mile relay swim.

On May 5 2011, a swim between Aunu’u and Tutuila was first completed with solo marathon swimmer Bruckner Chase. Today, the swim will make history again, due to the fact it will be completed by all Samoan swimmers, showing the world that America Samoa is more than just about knocking heads on the football or rugby fields, or knocking guys out in the boxing ring—American Samoa is about ‘Ocean Athletes’ as well.

These Ocean Athletes are not only trying to prove that they can make this swim, but they are also trying to positively impact how we feel, think and act towards our oceans.

Samoa News had a chance to speak with two of the six unique Ocean Athletes who are swimmers and instructors for the Toa o le Tai Ocean Heroes Program and the Ocean Swimming/Ocean Science Class at Samoana High School.

Daniel Saifoloi, a 19 year old from Se’etaga and 21 year old Alesana Eti Alesana ‘Tank’, will both be making this historic swim today.

“For me, it will really be historic and I know it will make my family proud,” said Saifoloi. “I hope this swim will encourage the young kids here in the territory to try and do something they always thought they could not do. We have been in touch with swimmers from all around the world, who are interested in the program we have here in American Samoa and want to be a part of it. Some of these young people that we have been keeping contact with, have said that they wish to be part of this history making day, which gives us swimmers here even more confidence in ourselves,” he stated.

“What this Toa o le Tai Ocean Heroes Program has done for me, it has broadened my perspectives in certain career fields that I can go into. In becoming efficient in this, I can make it into a career, and that is really a big deal. I would also like to say to my mom Torise Saifoloi, Happy Mothers Day and thank you for the support...and always being there for me and taking care of me,” he said.

Alesana Eti Alesana ‘Tank’ who will also be making this swim said, “This 9 mile relay swim will be an historical event in my life and I would like to thank God for his blessings that led me to this point in my life... to be part of this great event,”

 “With this being close to Mothers Day, I would like to thank my mother Eseese Alesana, who has always been there for me. This swim is for you, mom. I am part of something great and among people who care about themselves, others and the environment”.

“I had the opportunity come my way, to do what I am doing and took it... and I am glad that I did. To all of you young people out there, if something good comes your way, do not let it pass you by, take it, as I did,” said Tank.


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