SAN DIEGO – Twelve swimmers dived into the Pacific Ocean at Imperial Beach in Southern California and swam across the border to the Mexican city of Tijuana to raise awareness about the sensitive subject of immigration and to raise funds for people who have lost a family member who was trying to reach the US.
“This swim means so much, for us it’s a dream that with our joint efforts we can show the world that we humans can reach beyond borders and be united,” Mexican swimmer Nora Toledano said.
Taking part with her in the Pan-American Colibri Swim were experienced open-sea swimmers from Mexico, New Zealand, Israel, South Africa and the United States, all dedicated to collecting funds for the Colibri Center for Human Rights.
Money raised by this event goes to families that have suffered the loss of a loved one trying to cross the border into the United States.
The idea is also to raise awareness about the dangers facing immigrants who must take dangerous routes in their attempt to reach the US.
The athletes set out early Friday on their swim of about 10 kilometers (6 miles), protected at all times by a boat with lifesaving equipment that accompanied them to the beach at Tijuana.
Another Mexican swimmer, Mariel Hawley, said “the idea of this swim is that there are no limits, no borders between human beings, and that sport can achieve many things and that today we are taking our message to the world.”
What was symbolic about this route is that swimmers crossed the border where it will be too hard to build a wall between the two countries, as the government of President Donald Trump wishes.
“We crossed that imaginary line that we humans lay down and that has always been an element of the very human process of migration,” Antonio Arguelles, one of the organizers of the cross-border swim, told EFE.
Despite the controversy that for months has pitted Trump against the Mexican government, the open-sea swimmer insisted that the event is not in the slightest degree political but is rather a way to swim against the tide and care for migrants in their plight.
“They (the swimmers) are really forces of nature with an amazing compassion for the community,” said the Mexican consul general in San Diego, Marcela Celorio.
For the Mexican official, this kind of event shows the brotherhood that exists between neighboring countries and that “US-Mexico relations will keep flowing.”