Open Water World Record Holder Monte Monfore Passes Away at 56

Monte Monfore, an open-water swimmer who used his races to raise money and awareness for humanitarian causes, passed away at Pinatang Park in Songsong, Rota, Northern Mariana Islands Tuesday afternoon.

A witness found him floating face-down in a swimming hole, and called 911. His cause of death is unknown, but he was found with a “very significant” head injury, according to the Saipan Tribune.

Medics performed chest compressions before taking him to the Rota Health Center, where he was pronounced dead. Notably, waters were rough on Tuesday due to a passing storm.

Monfore is originally from California, and was thought to have been living in Bali since 2004 and moved to Rota, alone, six months ago. He holds the World Record for the quickest swim on the Bali Straight, between the two closest points of Bali and Java.

His most famous swim was the 7K Lombok Fight Hunger Swim in 2007, when Monfore swam from Lombok island in Indonesia to the very small Gili Trawangan island. You can view highlights of the swim and interviews with Monfore below:

Before that, in 2006, he swam for victims of the Yogya earthquake.

Monfore often made intentional choices to swim his races in harsh conditions to symbolize the issues that faced the people for whom he swam. For example, in the wake of the earthquake, he chose to begin his swim in the dark to symbolize destruction.

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Emily Cook

To the editor: Pinatang park is located in the town of Songsong on the island of Rota, in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands. (Near Guam). Not Indonesia.

Robin marinos

Monte moved there in January instead of moving back to Bali. because the conditions of receiving his monthly disability payment for his “Fatigue Sickness” required he lived in the USA or a US protectorate, as in the case of Rota! This may have been a decision that cost him his life since now it seems he death is a result of Foul play or Murder, whether accidental or deliberate! He was meant to fly to Japan to visit a long time friend and due to the flight delayed, returned to his rented hotel room to rest before the rescheduled flight time! He never return, was found dead with head wound face down in the swimming pool with shoes still on!… Read more »

Brent Barnes

Monte was a water warrior who lived for the sun, surf and swimming. He also kept things simple, stayed out of the rat race, and there were never any dull moments with Monte around esp in Bali/Kuta! My masters world records in the 50 free over the years and the training required don’t compare to his grueling/demanding WR achievements! Save a lane for me up there dude!! Best, Brent Barnes

Craig Dishmon

My name is Craig. In 1976 I was a freshman in high school when I joined the swim team in Hanford Calif. My older brother Jeff Dishmon was already on the team with Monte. They were friends. Even though Monte was also a freshman he was on varsity with my brother. Swimmers are very strong. Monte was a amazing arm wrestler. He would beat much bigger kids in school that were in higher grades then him. I was there when he saved John Blear from drowning at a swim meet in Tulare. John developed severe cramps and went under water during a rece. A couple of guys jumped in and saved him. My brother Jeff and Monte. I always knew… Read more »

Robin marinos

Monte also holds 3 world records for open water swims from Nusa Penida to Bali and Nusa Lembongan to Bali! Also established record for Bali to Java crossing 3 times consecutively! I was witness and have documented two of those swims!

Dana Lucas

About Torrey Hart

Torrey Hart

Torrey is from Oakland, CA, and majors in Media Studies and American Studies at Claremont McKenna College. When she's not writing about swimming or baseball, you can probably find her listening to a podcast or in a pool ... and/or watching Seinfeld, which she just realized is funny.

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