French triathletes Frederic Manguin, Eric Rochier, and Pascal Cochard swam back to the shore last Saturday, completing a two-lap swim.
No. They did not finish the swim leg of the 2018 Ironman 70. 3 Saipan. The race was canceled. They swam in the waters off Kanoa Resort to retrieve tin roofs that were blown away to the sea when Super Typhoon Yutu slammed the island late Wednesday evening to early Thursday morning.
The three triathletes were among the Ironman 70.3 Saipan participants stuck on the island and decided to give a helping hand to the community in the aftermath of the Category 5 typhoon.
“When we were told that the race was canceled because of the typhoon, we know we have to find a way to do something good,” said Rochier.
Rochier, along with her daughter, Manon helped Kanoa Resort staff sweep debris from the fallen tree branches and plants at the hotel grounds before joining his fellow triathletes in the water to bring big tin roofs to the shore.
“We got them where the water was about shoulder deep,” said Cochard, a veteran of Ironman races around the world.
“After the typhoon, we want to have the opportunity to help the people on island because we know a lot are suffering. The staff of the hotel are so busy cleaning up so it’s important that we also help out since we’re staying here and have nothing to do,” Manguin said.
“We have a place to stay and are comfortable with it. We have food and water, so we’re OK. A lot of people here are not OK, so helping out is the least we could do,” said Manguin, adding that experiencing typhoon was new to them.
“In France, we don’t have this. Our families were worried about us, but after we called them and told them we are safe, they are fine,” the Paris native said.
The group arrived on Saipan last Oct. 14 and was very excited to see the beauty of the island.
“It’s an amazing place, very nice beaches and views. We came here early so we have time to train. We went to Suicide Cliff for the bike and it was beautiful. Unfortunately, we’re not able to race,” Cochard said.
“But it’s OK. It’s more important to help the people here in our own little way,” said Rochier, who along with her daughter, Cochard, and Manguin assisted Kanoa Resort the same morning Yutu left the island devastated.
Kanoa Resort staff member Tam Williams tipped his hats off to their guests.
“They could just stay in their room and relax, but they chose to help us out in cleaning the resort. They made the water safer by removing the tin roofs and other stuffs that were blown away. We truly appreciate their kindness, especially at this time when everyone is struggling and trying to recover from the typhoon,” Williams said. “They were not able to race in Ironman Saipan, but they are winners for us.”