5-year-old boy conquers Mactan Channel

Apr 4, 2003
5-year-old boy conquers Mactan Channel

By Jolene Bulambot
Last updated 03:28am (Mla time) 10/09/2006

Published on page A1 of the October 9, 2006 issue of the Philippine Daily Inquirer

CEBU CITY -- He looked just like any other 5-year-old boy, until Justin Daniel Junio jumped into the water yesterday and set a record for swimming across the Mactan Channel.

Junio achieved what many grown-ups could not.

In nearly two hours, he swam 6 kilometers to cross the 3-km channel because he was swept away from the route by strong currents.

Hundreds of cheering Cebuanos watched the event on ferryboats that delayed their departures, on vessels under repair and maintenance at the Ouano wharf, and on the Mandaue-Mactan bridge.

They were not disappointed as they witnessed the youngest person to ever cross the channel.

We are very happy that he made it. Ever since, we were confident that he would make it because he loves the water so much and it was his desire to cross the channel, retired Air Force Colonel Florencio Junio said after his son emerged from the water.

Junio showed no sign of fatigue and stress while his mother, Ma. Vilena, 50, held him as cameras clicked. Asked by reporters if he was tired, he shook his head. He drank a glass of chocolate milk before he was driven to his hotel where a medical team examined him.

Im very proud of him. I was excited and nervous, but I knew he could do it, Junios mother said.

Junio was supposed to start swimming at 7 a.m. from the ferryboat terminal in Lapu-Lapu City across from the Ouano wharf in Mandaue together with his coach, Master Sergeant Jairulla Jaitulla, and four frogmen from the Philippine Navy.

But this was delayed by 37 minutes because of the media frenzy. The boy went to the rear of a ferryboat, played with its steering wheel for a while, then jumped into the water without waiting for the cue from his father or organizers of the event.

Junio, along with his coach and the escorting Navy men, reached the Ouano wharf in roughly 20 minutes.


A Navy boat, a speedboat from the Search and Rescue Team of Cebu City and two rubber boats from the Philippine Coast Guard escorted the boy.

Junio swam back toward Lapu-Lapu at around 8:15 a.m. but the strong current caused by passing ships and the polluted water slowed him down as he took an alternate route.

He stopped for several minutes by the San Miguel depot in Mandaue and took his time playing in the water off General Milling Corp., diving underwater a few times, on his way back to where he had jumped off.

There was no instance that he wanted to give up, Jaitulla told reporters. What took us long in the water was the current, and he was playing. I was telling him that we better speed up because we were already hungry.

100 laps a day

Jaitulla, a former Olympic swimmer, said Junio prepared for yesterdays event by doing more than 100 laps a day. He said Junio swam secretly from the pier of Naval Forces Central toward Ouano wharf on Wednesday, covering 3.6 km.

The original plan was to finish the route in less than an hour but the current was too strong, said Jaitulla. He said that with his stamina, Junio could swim up to 10 km.

Junio is the youngest of five children. When he was 11 months old, while in the company of his siblings, he jumped into a pool, his father said.

They were surprised to find him floating by using the dog-paddle style. From that time on, he joined them in practice, he added.

The elder Junio is hopeful that his son will land as the youngest to cross a channel in the Guinness Book of Records.

This is not a competition but a demonstration of his skills. He was not competing with anybody. Its just that it was the first time a very young boy crossed the channel, the father said.

@ the accomplishment. :x
@ swimming at the Mactan Channel
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