There is perhaps no better way to escape the sizzling heat of Karamay’s desert climate at the height of summer, than to head down to the nearest reservoir, put on your swimming cap and jump in.
And that is exactly what some 270 locals did on Aug 6, when they took part in the 17th annual Karamay Water Festival, held at Aykol Reservoir on the outskirts of the oil rich city in Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region.
The highlight of the day’s activities was a 1,200-meter feature race across the reservoir. The course had to be shortened this year due to the extreme heat and lack of rainfall in the previous months.
Inspired by the recent Olympic success of Sun Yang and Fu Yuanhui, Karamay swimmers of all ages paddled and kicked their way to the finish line.
Fourteen-year-old swimmer, Liu Zhewen, crossed the line in first place in the final ahead of stiff competition. “It’s my fourth time to take part in the competition,” Liu said. “I’ve been training so hard during the summer vacation and I’m satisfied with myself and hope to improve even more next time.”
The eldest competitor this year was 70-year-old Zhang Wei who remarked that swimming helps him to feel young. “I’m sure I will still be able to swim when I am 80 years old,” he said with confidence.
Water is a precious commodity in arid Karamay, and so the water festival is immensely popular. Running from August until late September the festival will host a raft of events such as water-splashing competitions, underwater treasure hunts and bucket races.
Swimmers from Karamay take part in a 1,200 meter race on Aug 6, as part of the 17th annual Karamay Water Festival. [Photo/kelamayi.com.cn]