Olympian, Activist Neil Agius Completes Sicily-Malta Swim

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Photo Courtesy: Andy Ross

Malta Olympian Neil Agius has completed a swim from Sicily to Malta in a record-setting time this week.

Agius departed from Punta Braccetto in Ragusa, Sicily in in the early morning hours of Thursday. He arrived in Balluta Bay in St. Julian’s at 9:21 am on Friday, a time of 28 hours, seven minutes and 27 seconds.

It’s much faster than Agius’s estimated time to cover the 95 kilometers, which he estimated at around 35 hours. Crowds awaited his arrival at St. Julian’s Water Polo and Aquatic Club.

“It was so much fun. … I was laughing, teasing the crew … and crying too,” he said. “The toughest part was at around 3 a.m. because I got so cold.”

Agius, 34, competed at the 2004 Olympics in the 400 freestyle. He held national records in the 400, 800 and 1,500 free. Now a swimming coach, Agius made the trip as part of the Wave of Change movement, which aims to raise awareness about marine pollution and threats to marine habitats. (The journey of the swim is documented at Wave of Change’s Instagram account.)

 

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According to the Times of Malta, he is just the second person to complete the swim. The only other recorded passage from Italy to the Malta archipelago was made by Nicky Farrugia in 1985, crossing from Sicilia to the island of Gozo.

Neil Agius has done other open-water swims to raise awareness. In 2018, he swam around the island of Malta, about 70 km, in 22 hours. He swam around the island of Gozo in 2019, a 38-km swim taking 10 hours.

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