During my stay in Semporna I heard that many people were talking about Estino Taniyu, a Bajau Laut from Bangau Bagnau, who is working for the Malaysian Navy . They told me that he had won a swimming competition in Europe. “Melikan Taraug”, (‘the white men lost’), they said. I searched for Taniyu on the Internet and read that he had swum across the English channel, the third Malaysian and the first Bajau Laut ever to do so. He crossed the channel in 13 hours and 45 minutes.
Estino Taniy is far from the fastest swimmer who has swum across the channel, but we have to keep in mind that none Bajau swimmer have gone through professional training. Estino has grown up in an are that was completely water based only 50 years ago, when they arrived from Sitankai on their houseboats. It is also worth to mention that the first man ever who swam across the channel, Matthew Webb in 1875, needed more than 21 hours to complete the endeavor – and he hold the record for decades.
I met Estino Taniyu’s mother in her house in Bangau Bagnau. She told me that thousands of Semporna locals, including Pakistani and Malay people, had come to their house to celebrate when Estino returned from England. She also told me that Estino used to follow his father fishing when he was young.
“I made it through physical and mental preparation, the experience of being a village boy and the son of a fisherman and support from my team and the Malaysian army,” Estino told The Borneo Post in an interview. You can read more in their article: Semporna welcomes home English Channel swimmer