Zac Bugeja’s swimming coach, who also happens to be Olympian and world record-breaker Neil Agius, might be joining the 8-year-old on his brave long-distance swim.
The 8-year-old environment enthusiast has decided to embark on a non-stop 2.2 kilometre swim to form part of the Wave Of Change movement that aims to raise awareness on plastic pollution littered throughout our seas.
And as a sign of support, Agius has said that he will join a part of the young boy’s swim if he’s in Malta.
Zac’s prospective venture is primarily inspired by Agius who just completed his own 52-hour swim from the Sicilian island of Linosa to Gozo’s Xlendi Bay.
And as his father, Gordon Bugeja, put it: “he will be riding Neil’s wave of change to encourage people to make a difference in their lives”.
Agius has been coaching Zac since the tender age of four months making him the first-ever person to “duck Zac underwater”.
And despite his startling introduction, the young boy has been thriving ever since.
In fact, last September, he joined the St. Julian’s elite squad under the coaching of Agius and his colleagues where he trains three times a week.
His father, who is a board member of the Wave Of Change Foundation, has also contributed greatly to this mission.
Speaking to Lovin Malta, he said that he and Zac’s mother Lucianne have always endorsed Zac’s passion for swimming, love for the sea, and desire to protect the ocean.
And as the man behind Neil’s impressive swims, Bugeja spent 8 months planning, giving Zac that extra exposure he needed to come up with this brave idea.
While supporting Zac through any ventures he is interested in, Bugeja described the fine line between pushing and encouraging.
Explaining that he often questions whether he’s pushing Zac too much or just enough to benefit him and build his character.
Yet, he remains confident in Zac’s skills, determination, and strength, and is always receptive to his son’s needs: they even chose the beginning of September for his impressive swim because the boy wanted to avoid jellyfish.
However, when facing moments of pressure-induced doubts, Zac’s parents always assure him that it’s okay for him to stop.
Telling him that “even professional athletes need a break sometimes” and ultimately reminding him that the challenge is “simply a way to pass on the message”.
Zac’s environmental concerns serve as essential motivators for this new challenge that will take place in September. He’ll be swimming from Gerbulin to Slugs Bay – both in Mellieħa – and back to raise the much-needed awareness on plastic pollution.
“Plastic in the sea will kill or trap fish and other creatures. A sea with no creatures is like a pancake with no chocolate, which is pretty boring,” Zac said to Times of Malta.
Zac has always shared an affinity with the sea. Consistently choosing ocean documentaries over classic cartoons only broadened his interest and knowledge of marine life.
In fact, on World Ocean Day, he gave a presentation that he entitled ‘The Deep Blue Sea’ to his fellow Grade 4 classmates and in it, he instructed everyone to identify one single-use plastic appliance used at their homes and urged them to replace it with a more sustainable item.
Since Zac has never swam such a distance, he’s already begun training hard both with his coaches and with his father.
Meanwhile, he remains excited, hopeful, and encouraged by his family and his three classmates who are described as his “number one fans” by San Anton School, and who will form part of his support team.
Speaking to Times of Malta, Agius said that with training and determination, Zac will complete this long-distance swim.
Relive the moment Neil Agius completed his world-record swim.
Over 50 hours and 125km later, Neil Agius managed to complete the herculean feat of swimming from Linosa to Malta to claim a new world record for the longest distance ocean swim 🏊🏼👏🏼
Posted by Lovin Malta on Wednesday, June 30, 2021
However, he assured that it is “all about the journey, not the destination”.
“Each step of the way we are inspiring and motivating people, showing them that everything is possible.”
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