12-Year-Old Swims from St. Lucia to Martinique

In early October, swimming prodigy Christophe Maleau became the youngest person to swim from St. Lucia to his native Martinique, near the northern coast of South America. He completed the 40km swim in 13 hours, 50 minutes and 47 seconds. Although this is not a quick time for adult marathon swimmers, it is incredibly impressive for a 12-year-old like Maleau.

Map: Google Earth


He joins a very small number of people who have successfully crossed the St. Lucia Channel. This group includes two-time Masters world champion Jacques Sicot and French Olympic champion Gilles Rondy. Maleau has previously said that his dream is to swim at the Olympics.

Photo: openwaterswimming.com


This was not his first long-distance swim. In 2017, at age nine, he completed a 6.5km swim, and in 2018, he swam for 10 hours between Diamant and Schoelcher in Martinique.

For this current swim, Maleau wanted to raise money for breast cancer; his mother is in remission after suffering from the disease. The event was difficult to organize because of strict COVID-19 protocols, but Maleau managed to bring it off. During the swim, his father canoed beside him, while doctors and divers followed in another boat to ensure his safety.

“At the end, there was a swell and bigger waves and of course, I was a little worried,” said his father afterward. “But he didn’t want to give up.”

Photo: openwaterswimming.com


“I held on by singing songs to myself,” said Maleau. “I sometimes wanted to stop because I was tired. But when the idea crossed my mind, I told myself I had no right. I had to continue for the cause I was defending.”