The inaugural Asia Pacific Masters Games has just taken place, right here in Penang, Malaysia! Here are some brief glimpses of the Penang Asia Pacific Masters Games that took place in September of 2018.
Now I bet you’re sitting there like the Thinker, thinking to yourself:
What is the Masters Games?
Well, put simply – Masters refers to veterans, or those who are typically outside the range and considered “past the prime” for competitive sports.
Basically the Masters Games is an all-encompassing international multi-sport event, like the Olympics, but for all ages and abilities!
Anyway, this is the opening ceremony for Penang’s Asia Pacific Masters Games.
It went off with several bangs.
And of course some speeches.
And some snazzy song and dance to keep everyone entertained.
And of course some colourful things to thrill the throngs!
Did I mention there were a lot of bangs?
And here’s the swimming segment of the Masters Games:
And here’s the cycling segment:
Healthy drinks and sporting events are made for each other! Hope he’s ready for some good business!
Port Dickson is a truly idyllic seaside sanctuary from the hectic madness not far to the north. The Avillion Admiral Cove is a meticulously reclaimed semicircular lagoon prodding west along the Straits of Malacca.
With turquoise waters and a gradually receding beach front, it’s a perfect spot for classy resorts…and sport.
For 17 years, this Avillion Admiral Cove has been host to the annual Port Dickson International Triathlon, one of the few this part of the world.
With clean sweeping beaches and protected lagoony marinas, it’s not hard to see why this is such a popular spot for tourists and hardcore triathletes.
And where there is tourism, there is food. Just down the road are a number of popular seafood restaurants. One iconic eatery is based in a multi-tiered Chinese shrine. The rest have your usual assortment of resting flora and fauna.
With the sportspeople come a rainbow variety of vividly coloured equipment and accessories!
There exists a rocky island off the coast of Penang (which itself is also an island) that legend claims used to be infested with mice.
Early settlers from Thailand used it as a base, and the little furry rodents kept them company on lonely nights (no, not like that). And that is where the name Pulau Tikus came from – literally translating in the local language to the Isle of Mice.
It’s not hard to get there – you just need to think unconventionally.
First you start at the Water Sports Complex just north of the Floating Mosque of Penang in Tanjung Bungah.
Some people choose to swim, while others kayak or catch a little fishing dingy. Whatever floats your boat.
The island itself is actually relatively devoid of rodents, but lots of other little critters now inhabit it. There are lots of little crabs and crustaceans that line the large crusty boulders that protect the island. Oysters and shellfish find shelter between the rocks and just under the surface.
In turn, seabirds and crows flock here to feast on the abundant seafood. As do the fishermen and random passersby.
And believe it or not – the Isle of Mice comes with some man-made facilities!
There is still a working jetty, although I’ve yet to see an actual boat dock there.
There is also a concrete structure that houses a shrine of sorts, accompanied by a tall steel watchtower that is sturdy enough to fit a football team!
During low tide, there is also a nice stretch of beach on Tikus Island.
It has relatively little shade though, and no cooling coconut trees, so I’d recommend coming early in the morning or later in the evening.
And here is footage from above:
This is quite possible the first time Tikus Island has been documented and photographed from above in such detail (no, satellites don’t count)!
Perhaps a small part of Penang history was made today.
I can tell this guy is excited.
Now if you ever want to take a trip out to this island, your best bet is from one of the beaches along Penang Island’s northern coast.
The Water Sports Complex in Tanjung Bungah has a little beach from which you can launch out to reach the Isle of Mice (Pulau Tikus).
So feel free to visit the Isle of Mice and experience the real Pulau Tikus (there’s a suburb named after it on Penang Island itself)!
The Water Sports Complex rents kayaks of all sizes, or if you’re a member of the lofty Penang Swimming Club, then you can easily take off from there.
And since you made it this far, you get the exclusive privilege of watching this not-too-corny video!
Penang International Cross Channel Swim 2016 Camera Roll
Penang’s annual cross channel swim is gaining traction again after a very long hiatus. Veteran swimmers fondly reminisce the early editions of this swim that took place decades ago.
This year the Penang International Cross Channel Swim attracted over 300 swimmers to the coast of Penang! Visitors from all over the world flock to swim the shores of Malaysia, to brave the powerful currents of the Straits of Malacca, to make the crossing between the Penang Island and the mainland.
The aspect of these international events that I enjoy the most is the people you meet – their stories and motivations.
I was on the bus returning to Penang Island from Butterworth, after a morning of fun and excitement. Everyone was sweaty and exhausted – most fell asleep almost instantly. The bus ride was at least half an hour, but it certainly felt much longer. I ended up sitting next to this young Indian chap, and we struck up a conversation.
Turns out he hails from Kuala Lumpur, and he came all the way up to Penang all by himself just for this event! This was his very first major swimming event too.
He had recently taken up swimming in an effort to get some exercise and build some muscle, and he happened to glance upon this event on the internet. So he signed himself up and hopped on a bus bound for Penang.
The sheer act of travelling alone to an unfamiliar location usually deters most people, but what this guy did blows me away. Keep in mind the Penang International Cross Channel Swim is a 6 kilometre swim through salty, sea water with winds and currents and nothing on either side (or down below, for that matter). This boy had only started swimming in a controlled pool environment a few months ago!
To put things in perspective, the average Olympic sized swimming pool is 50 metres.
And 6 kilometres is 6,000 metres, which works out to be 120 laps. 120 times back and forth across an Olympic size swimming pool.
Keep in mind the Penang International Cross Channel Swim is a 6 kilometre swim through salty, sea water with winds and currents and nothing on either side (or down below, for that matter)
I don’t know about you, but 20 laps is already a decent amount for me when I hit the pool.
So suffice to say, he didn’t manage to finish the swim. I don’t fault him for that at all.
He was under-prepared, under-equipped and not all that well-informed. But the important thing was he had a wonderful experience.
Now someone who did finish the grueling swim was Mr. Jose Luis Larrosa, the champion of the Penang International Cross Channel Swim. This man hightailed it across the sea in record time, without pause or hesitation.
I had the opportunity to speak with him, and he is a world-class long distance swimmer that does an average of 20 kilometres in the water every week. That’s the sound of my mind being blown. Again.
Mr. Larrosa hails from Spain, from an elite group of dedicated swimmers that travel around the globe in search of the best spots to do lots and lots of swimming. His next port of call was Port Dickson the next day for another big swim. There is no doubt that swimming is his passion, and he lives and breathes for events such as this.
When asked about our local environment, he says he very much enjoyed swimming in tropical waters, although ours is a little warmer than he’s used to. He said he loves Penang and will be back more often. We might see him again in the coming year!
Another interesting story is this Japanese gentleman that had contacted me prior to this event. His name is Meisei, and he wrote to me months before asking about the first Penang Cross Channel Swim from 2015.
He lamented that he had missed out on last year’s event and really, really wanted to make it to this one. So I promised I’d keep him updated on the details of the swim this year.
And true to his word, he came. I had the pleasure of meeting him in person at the event, and when he spoke his name I remembered him instantly.
This is an email he sent me:
Now I didn’t organise this event, but this email struck a chord with me. With a little more curiosity and openness on his part, I found out that his wife had become deeply ill back in 2015 and so Mr. Meisei did not attend the swim then.
He told me his wife loved to watch him swim. Since his wife’s passing, every time Meisei swam it reminded him of his wife. And so he dedicated this Cross Channel swim to her and memories of their time together.
If that’s not a touching love story, I don’t know what is.
And so now we turn to next year’s Penang International Cross Channel Swim! Tentative date is the 25th of March 2017. We look forward to seeing you there on the day! And hopefully the jellyfish stay away this time as well.
Time to get technical for a little bit: let’s talk about muscles. Now it doesn’t matter if you’re into sports or weights or nothing at all (stupid sexy Flanders). You need muscles. To live. (And if you would prefer not to strain your eye muscles on sciencey mumbo-jumbo, feel free to skip to the TL;DR!)
Now there’s a few fields of thought with regards to muscle types and groups, and they call it different things and interpret the findings in weird and wonderful ways. Generally, what most people can agree on is that voluntary muscle (a.k.a. skeletal muscle) falls into two categories: slow twitch and fast twitch.
Slow twitch muscle is a very oxygen-rich muscle type and is rife with capillaries for profuse blood supply, hence it’s alternative name “red” muscle. This muscle type is aerobic in nature and thus carries lots of oxygen and can sustain activity for long periods of time.
Fast twitch muscle is the more anaerobic of the two, and it can generate quick and powerful bursts of energy at low oxygen costs (anaerobic kind of means without air). This means it requires a lower oxygen supply in the short term but it also fatigues rapidly. It has a paler hue compared to slow twitch, resulting in the name “white” muscle, although the actual colour of it is far from white. Little twitchy mammals, such as the epitome of twitchiness Mr. Squirrel, have a large proportion of fast twitch that gives them their lightning bursts of fidgety speed.
Right, I think that’s enough biology for one lifetime. You’re still here? Interesting. Now, how does all this tie in with relatively regular life as an athlete? If you’re into endurance sports such as marathon running, then chances are you’ve got a greater proportion of slow twitch muscle. On the other hand, if you bench regularly, then your upper body is going to be chock full of fast twitch muscle! Simple, right?
TL;DR – Slow twitch: aerobic & long-lasting; fast twitch: anaerobic & short bursts.
Don’t worry, I’m not here to expound on the goodness of either type of muscle, or even sell you some exercise regime for the low, low price of a dollar per minute per second per second (no wait, that’s too many derivatives). I’m here to talk about how working to achieve a certain ratio of fast to slow twitch muscle can help you focus towards getting to your goal.
The table above is a somewhat unverified (oh, am I not supposed to say that?) estimate of the amount of slow twitch muscle you will find in people who frequently perform a particular path of sport or exercise. I’m truly curious about how they measure the ratio of different muscle fibres in a living (I hope) person’s body.
Another comparison that I can’t put numbers to is the difference in muscle types between men and women. It is generalised that men tend to possess a larger proportion of white, anaerobic muscle in their bodies, while women have more red, aerobic muscles. This has been postulated as to why women tend to float better than men in water, due to their lower specific gravity. Perhaps their body shape plays a part too. Wink wink.
It would seem like I would be biased toward red muscle, since my favoured activities would desire and require a greater quantity of salubrious, aerobic muscle. However, it has been observed that white muscle fibres have a much better ability to grow and increase in mass compared to their leaner brethren. So if you’re aiming to bulk up them guns or want a shorter road to a firmer build, then focus on short burst exercises that target your anaerobic muscles. Activities like weight-lifting and resistance training should give you results a lot faster than cycling for long periods.
Of course, ultimately you have to work out for yourself which types of physical exercise are best suited for your needs, as certain things work better for some. And no money back guarantees, thank you very much.