Gold Garnered by Foreign Swimmer in Yangtze River Crossing Festival
“Crossing the great Yangtze River, the eternal sky spreads endlessly. ” Swimming across the Yangtze River in Wuhan has historically been a popular activity. In the past 61 years, tremendous changes have been witnessed in Wuhan City and Wuhan International Yangtze River Crossing Festival has become one of the city’s influential cultural events.
China’s Chairman Mao Zedong had his first swim in the Yangtze River in Wuhan in 1956, after which was born the famous poem Swimming. In the 10 years following his first experience, he swam in the Yangtze River more than 10 times. It was in 1956 that the first Yangtze River crossing competition was held. Since then, it has become a wellknown festival of Wuhan City.
Therefore, with a halt in the tradition in 2016 due to flooding, Wuhan International Yangtze River Crossing Festival was back on July 16th,2017 and it was a great showcase of the charms of the city and the river.
This year the swimmers were divided into two groups: the timed competition joined by professional swimmers, and the amateurs’ session. The competition had attracted more than 10 foreign professional swimmers from
Germany, the U.S., Sweden, and other countries.
At last, the men’s gold was won by Swedish swimmer, Christian Axel Ericlong, who was merely 4 seconds faster than the gold winner of last year, Simon Wana. The top three female winners were all from Wuhan.
Li Sheng, now a reportage writer, was once a student participant in 1966 to cross the river together with Chairman Mao Zedong.
He said that the tradition of crossing the Yangtze River in Wuhan had been known internationally very early in 1961 when British Marshal Montgomery visited China and was invited to watch Chairman Mao Zedong swimming across the Yangtze River. He was also given the poem Swimming autographed by Chairman Mao as a gift before he went back to Britain.
“Swimming across the Yangtze River used to be just a fun sport for the people but now it has become an annual festival. It is Wuhan’s city card, ” said Li Sheng. Now, Wuhan is an international cosmopolitan city. Into the new era, Wuhan’s city planning was centered around the Yangtze River, which gives the festival a new meaning, that is, for building a better Wuhan, we shall unite as one and act in unity.
Wuhan International Yangtze River Crossing Festival bears an important mission for the future of this city. Economically, Wuhan should develop in an innovative manner, for example, initiating a new city of the Yangtze River; Culturally, this mega city will demonstrate its people’s strong will against hardship and also their passion for life.
Hu Liuming, a local writer, has suggested that the festival should welcome more international participants just as how marathons and bicycle races do. All forms and types of media should be involved to introduce the event to home and abroad bilingually in Chinese and English. What’s more, foreigners working in international organizations should be invited to join the event so as to let more people know of Wuhan internationally.
She hopes that Wuhan International Yangtze River Crossing Festival can truly become an international carnival.
● Left: the Brone Medalist; Middle: the Gold Medalist; Right: the Silver Medalist男子抢渡赛前三名（左起：季军冠军亚军）