People swim across Sun Moon Lake during the Sun Moon Lake International Swimming Carnival in Nantou County yesterday. Photo: EPA-EFE / Ritchie B. Tongo
By Lu Yi-hsuan and William Hetherington / Staff reporter, with staff writer and CNA
About 20,000 people yesterday took part in the annual Sun Moon Lake International Swimming Carnival in Nantou County, with extra disease prevention measures in place amid COVID-19 concerns, organizers said.
Nantou County Commissioner Lin Ming-chen （林明溱） said that businesses in the popular tourist area were relieved to learn that the annual event would go ahead after the central government approved it in light of the additional measures.
This year, the organizers checked each participant’s temperature, and required all participants to wear a mask up until entering the water and immediately after finishing the 3km swim.
The swimmers were also divided into four groups with different time slots, and the intervals between the starting times were longer than in the past, the organizers said.
According to the organizers, 21,828 people, including 195 foreign nationals, signed up as part of 1,998 teams for the event, which has been held since 1983.
Participants included former president Ma Ying-jeou （馬英九） and a team led by Australian Representative to Taiwan Gary Cowan, who took his daughter and colleagues to the event following a challenge from Canadian Representative to Taiwan Jordan Reeves, Cowan wrote on Twitter.
When he first arrived in Taiwan, he was told that Taiwanese perform three outdoor activities in their lifetime: climb Yushan （玉山）, swim across Sun Moon Lake （日月潭） and bike around Taiwan proper, Cowan said.
Cowan, who has been in Taiwan for two years and nine months, said he has been promoting “sports diplomacy,” and has explored Taiwan’s natural beauty through hiking and cycling.
He has also participated in the Taipei 101 climb, and hiked up Yushan and Syueshan （雪山）, he said.
He also joined members of the Australia New Zealand Chamber of Commerce in Taipei on a cycling trip from New Taipei City’s Tamsui District （淡水） to Oluanpi （鵝鑾鼻） in Pingtung County, in addition to other cycling trips including one from Hualien County to Tainan.
In June, he rode the circuit traversed by riders in the annual King of the Mountain event, and next month he plans to cycle from Taipei to Tainan, he said.
Yesterday’s swim was a “once in a lifetime experience,” Cowan wrote on Twitter.