He has the laughing face of a child his age: 12 years old. It’s a mini-piece of cabbage not very thick but already terribly determined. At home in the West Indies, when he goes to the swimming pool with his friends, it’s for fun. But not only: he remains longer than his comrades to align the lengths. Little Christophe Maleau is not a swimmer like the others.
The kid has just achieved an already incredible feat for a very good adult swimmer. He traveled in the open sea, in the middle of waves not always welcoming 40 kilometers between Saint Lucia, a small independent island state and Martinique. We’re not talking about swimming between two quiet beaches, but crossing a piece of the Atlantic. To give you an idea, 40 km swimming is the equivalent of… 800 round trips in a 25 m pool.
A deemed difficult crossing with the currents
In the Caribbean, this crossing is known to be particularly difficult because of the currents. Before him, only real whitewater swimming champions had taken up the challenge like Jacques Sicot or the European 25 km champion Gilles Rondy.
Leaving at 5 a.m. on October 10 two days before his 13th birthday, it took just under 2 p.m. (Editor’s note: 13h 50’47 “) to achieve this funny feat by eating every 20 minutes. “When I saw the lights of the phones of the people waiting for me on the coast, I knew I had arrived,” laughed the young champion who arrived at night in dark and disturbing water. Assistance boats obviously accompanied him on his journey and his relatives did not take their eyes off for a single second.
“So as not to get bored, I sang songs”
In the pool, swimmers say they count the tiles at the bottom of the pool to pass the time. Little Christophe did not have this distraction and he could not count the fish: “So not to be bored,” he said, “I sang songs and I thought of all the encouragement. that you could send me on social media. “
Normally at his age, we don’t spend hours in the water: we play in our room or at the console. So why all this? For a good cause and not directly his: Christophe Maleau swam to help research against breast cancer within the framework of Pink October. This crab filth eats away at his mother who is fighting against the disease: “I was hungry at times during the crossing, I sometimes wanted to stop because I was tired,” confides the young champion. But when this idea crossed my mind, I told myself that I had no right. I had to continue for the cause I was defending. “
“It was he who ended up encouraging me,” confides his daddy Sylvain, who followed him in a kayak. At the end there was swell, bigger waves and of course I was a little worried. But when he looked at me, I felt he was fine. He didn’t want to give up. It was out of the question. So he continued in freestyle to wave his arms with a simple pair of pool goggles on his nose.
He trained for 2 years
The little guy obviously did not wake up the morning of the feat, telling himself that he was going to take the plunge. He prepared for this day for two years by training like a top athlete. He worked like crazy 3-4 sessions a week for a total of kilometers which climbed to 45-50 a week at the height of his preparation.
It was not, however, his first attempt. Before his maritime marathon, the badly named Maleau had rallied by swimming from Anse Mitan to Trois Îlets, that is to say 6 km in crawl, then the 26 km between the island of Diamant and Schœlcher, a seaside resort in Martinique. Small detail: at the time, he was between 9 and 10 years old.
Article original de: www.leparisien.fr