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International swimmers to swim from Imperial Beach to Tijuana for migrants rights

Event will benefit the Colibri Center
Posted at 6:38 AM, May 05, 2017
and last updated 2017-05-05 11:38:51-04

IMPERIAL BEACH, Calif. (KGTV) - A group of swimmers from five different countries will swim across the U.S.-Mexico border Friday to bring attention to migrant rights.

The event will benefit the Colibri Center, and it helps families who have had loved ones die while trying to cross the border. According to the center, that's happened to more than 6,300 people since 1998.

"This is not a protest," said swimmer Kim Chambers. "I think we all agree that while human rights are politicized across the globe, they shouldn't be."

Chambers is one of the top open water swimmers in the world. She's one of only six people to complete the Oceans 7 Challenge, swimming's toughest endeavor.

Now, she's turning her attention to helping others.

The swimmers come from five different countries -- the U.S., New Zealand, Israel, South Africa and Mexico. They call events like this "Speedo Diplomacy" and say their international coalition shows that anyone can work together.

"We hope, with our swim, that people can look at 'them,' the migrants, as 'us' because we're all human," Chambers said.

This swim, though, presents unique challenges. The water in Imperial Beach has been contaminated by raw sewage spilling from Tijuana. Additionally, a shark recently attacked a woman in San Onofre.

"That pales in comparison to what migrants have to go through," Chambers said. "If I have to stay in a hospital for a few days, I'll be alright."

The group had to get permission from the U.S. Coast Guard, Border Patrol and the Mexican Navy to swim across the border. They'll have kayakers and support boats to make sure nothing goes wrong.

They'll leave from the Imperial Beach Pier around 8:30 a.m. Friday and plan to arrive in Tijuana by 12:30 p.m.

When they get to the Mexico side, 200 kids from Tijuana will be waiting to welcome them. They've got a party planned to celebrate togetherness.