By Samuel Whyte
Persons across the world have undertaken many unbelievable feats, but for 70 year old overseas based Guyanese Ashraf Ali to travel over 90 miles and then swim back and forth over the murky, muddy and choppy waters of the Demerara River without stopping is no mean accomplishment. Ali swam without a boat and no one accompanying.
To think that the mission was undertaken in the hot sun when the tide was rough with the current pulling heavily is unnatural, and could be some sort of record. In total Ali would have swam for approximately seven miles and being in the water for close to three hours.
Ali known as the “River Conqueror” had vowed to swim the Might Essequibo, the Berbice and Demerara River within two weeks in the month of September before heading back to the USA where he resides.
After travelling from his Canefield East Canje, Berbice base, Ali arrived at Friendship, East Bank Berbice from where he intended to start his journey. Encountering a little hiccup in finding a suitable place to begin his swim, he began his swim around 14:40 hrs.
He was soon on his way and subsequently disappeared into the distance as the water kept drifting him further upstream.
Ali was not seen again until some three hours after when he was found by members of his team standing all alone on the other side a little distance away from his starting base.
During the time he passed a number of boats anchored in the river and stated that he saw some of the sailors looking at him through their binoculars.
He stated that when he reached the other side of the river, about two miles upstream from where he started on the opposite side at Friendship. He did not panic despite being all alone in the muddy and bushy location. He climbed a tree and signal to his support team on the other side of the shore so that they could see him. However this did not work, because of the distance and no one was armed with binoculars.
Ali beginning his return journey from the west bank, it was not certain where he was located. Around that time panic stepped in among his support team who after not seeing him decided to traverse up and down the East Bank corridor.
In the meanwhile, Ali was calmly swimming across the river with the current at its strongest and the water rising steadily he was drifting further and further up river. But according to Ali he was not bothered. He never panicked, but kept swimming, eventually ending at Land of Canaan approximately seven miles from where he started.
A number of ships docked at the various wharves were contacted to look out for him. He was not seen since he had long passed those locations. At Supply the team asked a few fishing boats and even boarded an old boat and took to the Demerara in search of Ali. However, Ali by then had reached in the vicinity of Land Of Canaan and had emerged from the river, in the vicinity of a popular Gas Station.
Ali, a man of GOD came home to be a part of Guyana’s Golden Jubilee Celebrations and his Alma Mata Berbice High School centenary celebrations. He has since returned to the USA.
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