Veteran Swimmer and ‘River Conqueror’ Ashraf Ali the 70 year old resident of Canefield, East Canje, Berbice on Saturday completed one part of his Jubilee Independence Anniversary and Berbice High School Centenary Anniversary objectives when he successfully swam across the Berbice River.
Ali who now resides in the USA did the feat in just 40 minutes. He was sent on his way by among others B Division Commander Ian Amsterdam, Regional Chairman David Armogan and his school mate Dr. Edward Rampersud, Professor of Medicine at Citi University USA.
Ali began his journey at 14:00hrs from the New Amsterdam Stelling and swam a little past the Blairmont Stelling ending in the mud flat, a distance of over a mile.
According to Ali the activity, a regular routine and not too challenging. He was prepared to be in the water for much longer- about one to two hours. After the swim he felt quite OK and could go again. He described it as a normal workout. According to Ali, before he returned to Guyana, he would practice on a regular basis back in the USA.
He is expecting some more challenge when he undertakes the quest to conquer the Might Essequibo River.
Both the Regional Chairman Armogan and Commander Amsterdam congratulated Ali on what he has achieved so far and his future endeavours.
Ali on Friday met with Minister within the ministry of Education, Culture Youth and Sport, Nicolette Henry at her Office in Georgetown.
During the meeting, the two discussed a number of issues, including what assistance the Minister could give in his endeavors. They spoke about ways and means to make his accomplishments more recognizable and also discussed how Ali could use his skills and talents to assist Guyana and Guyanese.
The two Berbicians and former students of the BHS spoke about the attainment of the centenary status of the school and Guyana’s ongoing golden Independence Anniversary celebrations.
Ali’s swim across the Mighty Essequibo will be undertaken the same day the Berbice High School will be celebrating its 100th Anniversary. He hopes to swim for between 5-6 hours to across the river.
Ali is expected to swim from Rockstone on the East Bank of the Essequibo River, swim around Luck Island which is in the river and then head to the shore on the other side. He is inviting others to join him.
Ali since migrating, graduated with honours from the DeVry University in the USA with a degree in Electronics and Computer Technology. He got an A in Television repairs. He is also a qualified Television Producer. He produces a popular Television programme in the Queens area called “The Best Things in Life are Free.”
Ali graduated from BHS in 1967 after which he taught science and mathematics at a number of Secondary and Primary Schools in the Berbice area. He also lectured at The New Amsterdam Technical Institute. He was also head of the Science Department of the Canje Secondary. The father of two daughters who are both Doctors in The USA, Ali is now 70 years and stated that he feels good and ready for the challenge.
Ali is also an accomplish magician and was always in love with swimming from small and undertook many journeys across the Canje River. This is his fourth trip across the Berbice River, he first undertook the journey in 1979. In 1998 he swam the Suriname River, swimming from Skeldon to Stratt in Nickerie, Suriname, a journey which took about 4-1/2 hours.
In 1999 he swam the Demerara River. He has also swum Lake Mainstay twice.
Despite being aware that the Essequibo River is full of reptiles and other dangerous creatures such as Anacondas, Electric Ells, Sting Rays, Caimans, Piranhas and Alligators, Ali will not be swimming with any protective gear.
Ali, who is now a preacher, believes that the Almighty has inspired him. He described his meeting with the Minister as fruitful and beneficial. (Samuel Whyte)
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