Cold Half 2024

Cold Half 2024

I did the race Cold Half the third time as a solo this year on 4 February. I completed the race in 5:14:26 in 2020 and 4:53:47 in 2021. However, I skipped the 2023 edition because pandemic-related travel restrictions were still in place in Hong Kong, and I had emigrated to the UK already. My intention was to go back to Hong Kong and race every year.


Unfortunately, I didn’t have much training before this race. I now have a full-time job in London, and it is not possible to have long distance training in the UK winter outside heated pools. In 2022-2023 winter, I spent the whole season in a heated pool for speed and endurance training, however, with a full time job, such training was too tiring for me. Furthermore, I had got more entertainment as well, and started cold water training, which further took time away. As a result, I only averaged about 8 km per week in the months before the race, about a third of what I did in 2021. I rested on my laurels (食老本) to prepare for the race.

I flew back to Hong Kong on 25 January, and started swimming immediately with my goddesses and idols on the weekend afterwards, and within 2 days I was swimming my weekly training amount.


This year was the first year when all the travel restrictions in China / Hong Kong had been lifted after the COVID-19 pandemic, and the field had become international again. There were 19 solo competitors and 4 relay teams doing the full race from Stanley to Repulse Bay. The full list of solo competitors are below (competitors in the neoprene category are marked *, those living overseas are labelled with country of residence):

  • Benhart Hutabarat* (Indonesia)
  • Thibaud Lemaire*
  • Leung Chin Fung*
  • Lee Yeung Darwin*
  • Brett Kruse*
  • Tessa Garside (Australia) – English Channel swimmer (2022)
  • Lai Siu In*
  • Alec Stuart*
  • Simon Holliday – 6th time solo competitor (since 2014), round Hong Kong swimmer (2017), English Channel swimmer (2011)
  • Kensuke Shibuya (Japan)
  • Gunther Garz
  • Chang Jaw Ting Martin
  • Michael Tsang – 3nd time solo competitor (since 2020), English Channel swimmer (2022)
  • Jade Dyson (Singapore)
  • Janis Mok
  • Wen-erh Hsu 許汶而 (Taiwan) – Gibraltar Strait swimmer (2023)
  • Edie Hu – 10th time solo competitor (since 2015), round Hong Kong swimmer (2018), English Channel swimmer (2022), Catalina Channel swimmer (2023), Gibraltar Strait swimmer (2023)
  • Miu Tanaka*
  • Mayank Vaid* – round Hong Kong swimmer and HK360Xtreme triathlete (2019), former Enduroman Arch to Arc record holder (2019)

Race information

Race condition

  • Air temperature: 20°C
  • Water temperature: 20°C
  • Wind: BF 2 – 3


AWithin half of hour after Wen-erh HsuYes
BUnder 5:00No

Race plan

My support paddler was Gary Lui again, the same as my past 2 races. I didn’t have much expectation on my performance this year due to the lack of training.

CPPlaceDistance (km)Split time from live tracking
1To Tei Wan2.009:10
2Tai Tam Tau5.310:22
Bluff Head6.410:42
3SW of Round Island10.112:09
NW of Round Island10.512:21
4Tau Chau11.812:59
FinishRepulse Bay Beach, west end13.513:42

My feeding plan this year was to take a feed of 90 g maltodextrin mixed in 400 mL of water every hour.

Looking at the start list, the only one I knew who was not too fast for me to keep behind was Mayank Vaid. Although Wen-erh Hsu was my idol, as she swam the Gibraltar Strait in tandem with Edie Hu, I suspected that she would be too fast for me to follow, as I knew that there would be no chance for me to keep up with Edie. However, as I was not well-trained, I told Gary that I would not try to keep up with anyone, and told him to notice where Mayank and Wen-erh are.


On the day before the race, our Southside Swimming Hong Kong group did a rehearsal on the final approach to the modified race finish, where a number of us joined.

Unfortunately my family’s home was still in Tuen Mun, a place which was far away from good swimming locations. The race this year started earlier at 08:00. Buses in Hong Kong are much faster than those in London (where buses rarely exceed 15 km/h on average), and the best public transport route from my home to the race venue was to take 2 buses, as both the origin and the destination are far away from any heavy rail stations. I planned to take the express bus 960 from Tai Hing to Admiralty with the majority of the journey on motorways, however it was a bit of walk from my home to Tai Hing and I reckoned that I would just miss a bus if I did so, therefore I took another bus 58M at a stop closer to my home to the motorway interchange to pick up the 960 to Admiralty. Then I took another bus, 6, from Admiralty to Stanley which is an ordinary rural route with stops all the way, however the early morning journeys do not make a diversion via Ma Hang and the journey time between Admiralty and Stanley is under half an hour, as fast as the express routes. I boarded the bus 58M at 05:37 and alighted the bus 6 at Stanley at 07:06, taking 89 minutes for the 48 km journey, averaging 32 km/h including waiting time between the buses.

I told Gary to arrive at 07:30, half an hour before the race start, and he arrived on time as well.

The race

Start to To Tei Wan

The race started at 08:24. It was so foggy that sighting was not possible, and I had to rely on my paddler to guide me. I was soon left behind by everyone.

To Tei Wan to Tai Tam Tau

It was still foggy after rounding the buoy. There was no one behind me, however, I was not far behind a team with a yellow support motorboat. I caught up with him during this leg.

Tai Tam Tau to Round Island

The fog started to clear. However, I didn’t gain distance ahead of that team I caught up. We had to pass fleets of dinghies during this leg, so it affected my form and navigation as I had to stay close to the support kayak for safety. In addition, I started to get confused by the landmarks as well, so I ended up approaching Round Island at a suboptimal angle that I couldn’t recognise the corner.

Round Island to Tau Chau

The fog cleared and it became sunny. I started to see more people during this leg, and I thought I might have passed another team. However, I felt fatigued as well and could no longer keep a good form.

Tau Chau to finish

I tried hard to chase the people ahead of me and hoped to pass some solo swimmers, but unfortunately, I didn’t make that. I was still a minute and a half behind the one ahead of me when I arrived the finish point, and completed at 5:17:24.


There was a prize-giving ceremony at the finish but I wasn’t good enough to have a prize. I looked for Wen-erh Hsu, who is training for an English Channel swim in 2025, and I was shocked that there was only a small gap between our times (it ended up a 6-minute difference). Wen-erh was also undertrained like me as well due to work commitment, but I thought she was a much stronger swimmer than me (as she swam Gibraltar Strait with Edie) so I didn’t attempt to follow her in the race. I ended up being the 10th among the 10 competitors in standard class, while Wen-erh was the 9th.

Unlike previous years, I didn’t feel bad after the race, and I went for a kayak trip with my friend the next day, and spent some time in the sea for relaxation.

What’s next

I no longer enjoy swimming, with the exception of long-distance sea swimming. I don’t have much motivation for training, and I suspect that warm pools are giving me skin problems. My plan this year is to do the regional open water championships (5 km) as my A race, which serves as the national qualifier. I also plan to do a few other swims outside the official World Aquatics system, including Dock2Dock (I will do 15 km this year since my partner Ingrid will also do it as well, and I want a result to see if we are a good match to swim the Gibraltar Strait together), and another attempt for an English Channel relay.

I may start my run training again in the winter months in the UK, until it is warm enough for long-distance sea swimming, such that I can bring my running ability back to a comparable level to my swimming ability after I stopped running at the start of the pandemic.


Here I need to thank those who helped and supported me in the year leading to my swim.

  • Simon Holliday, Edie Hu: my marathon swimming mentors who shared their experience in their long swims, gave me support and confidence, and guided me in my training progress.
  • Ray Gibbs: swim teacher at Swim Canary Wharf, who helped me to improve my swimming efficiency for me to get through the English Channel
  • Gary Lui: my dearest orienteering friend, who became my support paddler for 3 years.
  • AVRA, Shu Pu, Henry Wright: the race organiser of Cold Half, letting us to achieve our marathon swimming dream as the only (possibly-)cold water marathon swimming race in the Asia-Pacific region.

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