Christophe Maleau, a 12-year-old swimming prodigy from Martinique, achieved yet another historic feat over the weekend after he successfully swam from neighboring island, Saint Lucia, to his native country in a challenge that has been attempted by just a few people who were older than him.
The challenging endeavor across the channel took the pre-teen 13 hours, 50 minutes and 47 seconds to complete, starting from the Bay of Saint Lucia at dawn on Saturday and successfully reaching Sainte Anne in Martinique around 6 pm.
In the company of his father who keenly followed him in a canoe as well as doctors and divers and other family members who were in another boat, Maleau, who dreams of swimming at the Olympics, explained he always had his eyes on the prize while in the open sea.
“I held on singing songs to myself, thinking about the encouragement I received on social media,” he said.
Maleau’s commendable milestone was also for a worthy cause as he solely jumped on the challenge to raise awareness on breast cancer and also encourage his mother who is suffering from the disease and is currently in her remission phase. The month of October is set aside each year to raise awareness on the disease.
“I was hungry at times during the crossing, I sometimes wanted to stop because I was tired,” Maleau admitted. “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.”
His father also added: “Christophe got it into his head that he wanted to help cancer patients, so he does it by swimming.”
The young swimmer was welcomed in his home country by a cheering and excited crowd, and medical officials conducted checks on him to ensure he was ok. Maleau joins the likes of fellow accomplished Martiniquan swimmer, Jacques Sicot, as well as French Olympic and European swimming champion, Gilles Rondy, to have successfully swum across that channel.
“It was he who ended up encouraging me,” his father said. “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.”
This isn’t the first time Maleau has accomplished a challenge. He completed a 6.4 km swim in 2017 and proceeded to successfully swim between the Martiniquan towns, Diamant and Schoelcher, in the space of 10 hours in 2018.