With perfect weather and ocean conditions on offer, the four swims making up the World Oceans Day Swim organised by Breathe Conservation started with an announcement from ultra-swimmer Sarah Ferguson that she plans to swim from Durban to Cape Town to further her ocean conservation goals.
Ferguson was part of an enthusiastic field that took on the five kilometre race in calm and warm sea conditions as part of a collective statement from swimmers to deal head-on with the scourge of plastic pollution in the oceans as part of the global World Oceans Day initiative.
Pool and lifesaving star Leshen Pillay won a dice to the beach finish from Tory Earl and Sven van der Linde at the end of the five kilometre race, and said that he had been lucky to catch a small wave in the closing stages.
“I was grateful to catch that little bump to get in front of Tory (Earl). I thought she was going to catch me on the run and I nearly tripped getting my feet out of the water,” said Pillay.
“The conditions were exceptional today and the pool swimmers do well when the conditions are flat,” he added.
He stressed that the most significant part of the race had been the statement the group of swimmers had made on the day to raise awareness of the threat of pollution in the seas.
“On the swim and on the drive down this morning, we could see the huge amount of plastic pollution from the rain this week and the wind. When you see it end up in the sea and on the beach it makes you think about what we are doing with our lives and how we can change to save our oceans,” said Pillay.
His sentiments were echoed by another pool star Guy Brooks who won the 3,2 kilometre race comfortably, racing away alone at the front of the field to win from Damien Angel and Carli Antonopoulos.
“I haven’t actually done a 3,2km for two or three years so I was really chuffed to see this event happening,” he said.
“I was really happy with my swim and I felt good the whole way. The conditions were amazing! It was easy to see the buoys and I loved the course,” he added.
Gauteng swimmer Aiden Peterson took the honours in the 1,6km swim as a warm-up for his Iron Man relay team event on Sunday.
“It was so good to be able to get involved today. Anything we can do to help the environment I am fully willing to do.
“It was great to be out in the ocean today. I got to check the sea temperature and conditions ahead of tomorrow and helped make a statement in support of our environment,” he added.
As the swimmers gathered for the 7am start of the first race, organiser and the driving force behind Breathe Conservation Sarah Ferguson announced to her fellow swimmers that she plans to swim from Durban to Cape Town in the coming year to further the work that Breathe Conservation is doing.
“It is a long way but I am super excited about it,” said Ferguson, whose Guinness World Record non-stop swim around Easter Island is documented in the book Swimming Easter Island.
“We are going to start in March next year and see how far we get. We will do it in stages, with time during the winter to do educational visits to schools between May and December,” she explained.
“By spreading it out over a year we hope to maximise the exposure and increase the following and awareness,” said Ferguson.
“Logistically it is a massive project, both the swim and the educational aspect, so we are giving ourselves a full year into 2023 to complete it.
“We really want to create behaviour change in as many people as possible around plastic in the ocean,” said Ferguson.
SUMMARY OF RESULTS – WORLD OCEANS DAY SWIM
1.Shayla Harvey 12:33
2.Zach Hopf 13:05
3.Keshav Reddy 13:12
4.Shria Reddy 14:06
5.Jeanne Louw 15:26
1.Aiden Peterson 25:21
2.Bailey Forrest 25:49
3.Jarrod Thorpe 25:52
4.Carla Miekle 25:57
5.Madison Alberts 26:00
1.Guy Brooks 26:36
2.Damien Angel 27:51
3.Carli Antonopoulos 27:58
4.Tasnim Nabbie 35:36
5.Karina Hambloch 36:03
1.Leshen Pillay 57:50
2.Tory Earl 57:55
3.Sven van der Linde 57:59
4.Matthew Pelser 1:00:29
5.Jaryd Holton 1:06:26