Over 100 swimmers took part in the inaugural Oceans8 Charity Swim in Durban this month, raising over R160 000 for the NSRI!
Durban beach is a great place to be in winter – especially so on 16 and 17 June, when over 100 open water swimmers gathered to take part in the inaugural Oceans8 Charity Swim at Undersea Club, Point. “The sea temperature was a warm 21 degrees, the sun was shining and, with the gazebos set up, it was a wonderful place for families to come and relax,” says Helen Wienand, the NSRI Guest Speaker in KwaZulu-Natal.
The first of its kind in South Africa, entrants to this warm-water swim challenge could choose to swim eight miles (four one-mile events on the 16th, and four one-mile events on the 17th), or just one mile on either day of the event.
Gale force winds delayed the start of the event on Friday, but thankfully calm prevailed and when the wind died down a perfect day was enjoyed by all on the beach and in the sea.
Oceans8 Charity Swim was created to raise funds for five NGOs*, including the National Sea Rescue Institute, and is the first warm water ocean challenge of its kind in South Africa. Each swimmer has selected a charity to support, and swimmers of all ages took part, from 15 to 76! With a maximum allocation of only 30 swimmers per charity, 22 swimmers for the NSRI helped to raise a total of R162 000, with a combined amount of R889 616 raised across all charities. (These amounts are a combination of fundraising in both 2022 and 2023: the Oceans8 Charity Swim was meant to launch last year but had to be cancelled due to poor water quality.)
Retired KwaZulu-Natal local Trevor Lauf, the oldest participant at 76 years, raised a total of R16 000 for the NSRI.
Both days kicked off bright and early. Crowds – especially the little ones – were entertained by mascots Phila the Penguin, Slippy the Seal, Raggy the Shark and Delia the Dolphin… when they weren’t cheering the swimmers on, that is.
“Locals having their morning walk on the promenade stopped to enjoy the sight and wonderful vibe. On Friday Danny Gusseli, a local East Coast Radio DJ, was there commentating and interviewing swimmers,” says Helen. “The spirit of camaraderie and friendship was awesome to see. The event was also completely free of single-use plastics, which was no mean feat and required a lot of careful planning and thought. Quench Pure Spring Water brought a container of water from their farm in Dundee with a tap, and people could top up their water bottles straight from there.”
One swimmer expressed her enjoyment: “That was a brilliant event, loved every second. Thank you to all the organisers.” Another said: “I just wanted to say thank you (and congratulations) on a great event this weekend. Everything ran so smoothly, although I’m sure there were a lot of moving wheels behind the scenes, which is a testament to how well the team arranged everything.”
Judging by the success and accolades of all involved, this event will be going from strength to strength in the coming years. Well done to the organisers and all who took part, and a huge thank you to Nomu and Plakkie for their continued support of the NSRI for this event.
* NGOs that will benefit directly from the Oceans8 swim include the five founders – the National Sea Rescue Institute (NSRI), Duzi Umngeni Conservation Trust (DUCT), Project Rhino, Singakwenza, and WildTrust – as well as numerous others.
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