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Man plans epic swim to Expo

A MAN from Hubei Province is planning to swim 1,200 kilometers to visit the World Expo in Shanghai.

Bao Zhengbin, 56, will set off today, swim past more than 30 cities along the Yangtze River, China's longest waterway, and reach Shanghai in about five weeks.

This special journey has been a dream 44 years in the making for Bao.

"When I was 12, I traveled to Shanghai by ship," he said. "The beautiful landscapes along the way impressed me so much that I wished one day I could swim along the route and stop wherever I chose."

In his younger days, Bao had neither the time nor money to make the journey. But he kept on swimming and eventually he became known as the best swimmer in Wuhan.

His personal record was to swim across the Yangtze River five times in one day.

"Now at last, I'll swim all the way to Shanghai, to fulfill my own dream and to see the World Expo," said Bao, a former reporter who works at a telecommunications company in Wuhan.

Bao said his friends will follow in a rowboat and take care of his luggage.

He plans to swim four hours a day, covering 40 kilometers at most, and stop in every city he passes.

"When I'm exhausted I might take a brief rest on the boat," he added.

For safety considerations, Bao politely turned down requests from others to join.

"If my own journey proves successful, I may organize a swimming marathon in the future. But now the time is not ripe," he said.

Bao said his adventure might also turn out to be an environmental campaign.

"Many swimmers complain the Yangtze is badly polluted. I'll find out if it is true," he said. "I hope I won't become a 'dirty fish' by the end of the journey."

Bao said that if the trip is successful he plans to swim across the Mississippi River in the United States next year.


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