Ocean swimmer Monte Monfore was found dead Tuesday afternoon on Pinatang Beach in Songsong, Rota, in what appears to be a head injury sustained in the waters off the beach.
Dr. Gregory Kotheimer, a physician at the Commonwealth Health Center, confirmed with Saipan Tribune last night that he declared Monfore dead on arrival at the Rota Health Center.
Kotheimer, who said he does not know the cause of Monfore’s death, stated that there is an ongoing police investigation.
Monfore, known as a world record breaker in ocean swimming, was described as in his mid-50s.
As of yesterday, the Department of Public Safety had yet to release information about Monfore’s death.
A resident of Rota, Dr. Francois Claassens, told Saipan Tribune that Monfore was apparently alone at Pinatang Beach, but nobody was really sure whether he was swimming or how he got into the water.
Claassens said he has no information as to who found Monfore at the beach.
Claassens said Monfore had a “very significant” open head injury, but whether it was a result of him hitting his head while swimming or somebody else hitting him “it is not clear.”
He said Monfore’s body was found at about 1:30pm Tuesday, Oct. 24.
He said the water was very rough on Rota last Tuesday because of a passing tropical storm.
Claassens said he knows Monfore as a patient.
“He’s Californian but went to Bali, Indonesia and he was doing all kinds of swimming exercises for hunger relief. He was quite an accomplished swimmer,” he said.
Claassens expressed disbelief that somebody who knows the ocean so well would go into the water, considering that Rota waters were very rough at the time because of the storm.
“I cannot believe that he would willingly go into that water and expose himself,” he said.
He said Monfore settled on Rota by himself six months ago.
“I don’t know how he found out about Rota. He came here to retire, to just come and live here, retirement in a quiet village,” he said.
Claassens, who met Monfore as a patient, would tell stories about his swimming experiences.
Monfore was known for making a 7-kilometer, Lombok Straight Fight Hunger Swim in Indonesia as part of the May 13, 2007, World Food Program Global Walk the World, an event supporting hungry schoolchildren throughout the world.
Prior to the Lombok swim, he spoke about the goal of the World Food Program and the United Nations Millennium Campaign to end child hunger by 2015.
In May 2006, Monfore reportedly did the Bali Fight Hunger Swim, where he swam a world record double-crossing of the 4-kilometer Bali Strait.