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SAIPAN, CNMI (Saipan Tribune, Aug 17) – Tim Cespedes became the first Chamorro to swim solo across the English Channel last Aug. 12, swimming from England to France in 10 hours and 37 minutes-the fastest solo time so far this season, according to officials with the English Channel Swimming and Piloting Federation.

The 47-year-old Cespedes is part of the Chamorro Flying Proa Relay Team that completed a relay crossing just three days earlier with a time of 13 hours and 7 minutes.

Aboard the Suva, the pilot boat that accompanied Cespedes across the Channel, were teammates Emma Perez, Pete Pete, Fred Perez, and Stephanie Perez who provided the feedings and monitored his condition throughout the swim.

"Tim was amazingly consistent from the start, with a swim stroke count of 52-53 strokes per minute until a mile off the French coast when he had to push hard to get through strong tidal current to reach the shore." said Pete.

"His speed was so consistent that the pilot described the swim as 'textbook' with a nearly straight line between the nearest points between England and France," he said.

Cespedes was very happy with his swim and with the timing as well-he accomplished the swim on the second anniversary of his mother's passing away.

"I wasn't sure if I would even get a chance to swim since I was waitlisted. I'm really glad to have been able to do this on the anniversary. I thought about my mom a lot while I was swimming." he said.

Cespedes' parents are Leopaldo Sanchez Cespedes and Cornelia Carmen Blas of Hagatna, Guam.

Swim times for cross-Channel swims vary widely each year due to the effects of wind and currents during the 21-mile swim. The longest time so far this year is about 19 hours. Swim times in excess of 20 hours covering distances of over 35 miles are common.Cespedes and the other members of the Chamorro Flying Relay Team traveled to England to attempt the relay in order to help raise funds for Sakman Chamorro, Inc., a CNMI-based non-profit that is attempting to revive the art of building and sailing the large Chamorro sailing canoes known in English as the "Flying Proa," and in Chamorro as "Sakman."

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