UAE-based CrossFit athlete Alex Millington completed the first open-water 18km swim around Palm Jumeirah during the Dubai Fitness Challenge on Saturday, November 19, to celebrate inclusivity and empowerment in sports.
The never-attempted-before swim during the Dubai Fitness Challenge was in collaboration with Touch, an inclusive talent agency representing experts and leaders across multiple industries.
Millington competed in the UAE Government Games in 2020 and 2021 alongside His Highness Sheikh Hamdan Bin Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai.
The entire swim took just over six hours. ARN News reporter Nadia Swan caught up with Alex Millington to talk about his experience after the swim.
He was joined by professional swimmers, youth from swimming clubs in the UAE, and children and adults of determination along with their families, who supported him in completing the 18km swim around the island.
At sunrise, Millington started swimming from Palm West Beach on Palm Jumeirah towards the left outside the crescent and around Palm Jumeirah’s open waters. He returned to the starting point to continue swimming on shore next to February 30 and Koko Bay beach club.
The professional swimmers supporting him swam in 30-minute intervals, including Kevin Paul, two-time gold Paralympian; Mike Bourne, Commonwealth gold medalist; Perry Gardner, the British record holder for 100m freestyle relay; Izabella Blacklock, British nationals and relay medalist from 2013 to 2017; Rhianna Bennett, two-time silver and bronze British nationals winner; Janna Ashgari, 18-year-old swimmer and fifth in the World Oceanman Championships rankings.
For the final 500 meters of the challenge, Millington was joined by youth swimmers from clubs across Dubai and qualified athletes from Touch. The last 25 metres of the swim was accompanied by children and adults of determination and their families.
Omar Khoory, Chief Assets Officer at Nakheel, said: “Social impact initiatives that promote inclusivity and happiness among residents and visitors are a big part of our mission at Nakheel. This historic event during the Dubai Fitness Challenge will bring the entire community together to support and uplift these amazing athletes and participants of all ages and abilities as they attempt to create a new record.”
Jean Winter, the CEO of Touch, said: “Our collaboration with Palm Jumeirah for this one-of-a-kind challenge underscores the power of sport as a platform for inclusivity, diversity and empowerment. This swim will provide an opportunity for people from all walks of life and abilities to participate, build their confidence, challenge themselves, become more tolerant and create new friendships.”