An extreme attempt, inspired by an extremely important organisation
Capetonian marathon swimmer, musician and mother-of-three Carina Bruwer is planning to attempt a 20km crossing of Nelson Mandela Bay in Port Elizabeth, in support of Muzukidz, an organisation that offers underprivileged children the opportunity to learn the violin. The ultra distance swim attempt is planned for 28 February, with 29 February and 1 March being standby dates in case of unfavourable conditions.
If successful, Carina will be the first woman and the second person to complete the gruelling crossing from the Port Elizabeth beachfront (Pollock Beach or Hobie Beach) to Coega Harbour, a swim that she has had her sights on for many years. Over the past 20 years, three male swimmers have crossed the bay. PE swimmer / adventurer Kyle Main did the 20km crossing from Hobie beach to Coega Harbour on two occasions (first of which was in 2000), while Chris Malan completed a 15km crossing to Blue Water Bay in 2003 at the age of 15, a route which internationally renowned Lewis Pugh also followed in 2006.
“Crossing Nelson Mandela Bay has been on my bucket list for longer than I can remember” says Carina, an open water swimming veteran whose resume includes numerous records and iconic crossings such as the English Channel, False Bay, the Gibraltar Straits, and dozens more. “I just never quite got round to it but now that Muzukidz, the NPO that I support with all my heart and efforts, opened a branch in Port Elizabeth, the time has certainly come!”.
Local sports company Adventure Swims ZA will oversee the crossing and provide support in the form of two boats and a team consisting of pilots, a power / rescue swimmer and a medic. The Port Authority, NSRI, KB Surf lifesaving and Guardmed will also be on standby. The boats will be equipped with shark shields, while there will be at least one dedicated shark spotter and the crew will also be responsible for spotting for sharks throughout Carina’s swim, which is expected to take anything between 5 and 7 hours, depending on the conditions. The main challenges, apart from the distance, are unpredictable currents, wind, rough water, shipping lane activity and ocean life.
Carina, an International Marathon Swimming’s Hall of Fame nominee who was also ranked as one of the World Open Water Swimming Association’s top 50 most “daring, courageous and audacious” open water swimmers in the world in 2015 and 2018, has been training 30km per week and says she feels ready for the distance.
“I am feeling fit and am looking forward to spending the time in the ocean; it is my happy place and the little aches and pains that creep in after a few hours of swimming are quickly forgotten when I am swimming for a cause”, says the 40 year-old mother of three. “When I swim in the open water and I get into my ‘zone’, I often experience a beautiful state of clarity, where the world makes sense to me and I feel enormously optimistic and filled with hope. I realise that I am hugely fortunate to be sable to experience moments like this while so many people in this world are limited by their circumstances – certainly most people in South Africa – so Swim For Hope is all about sharing this optimism and spreading the feeling of hope that I experience in the open water”, says Carina.
Carina, also a well-known musician who performs with the internationally renowned instrumental group Sterling EQ, founded Swim For Hope in 2014 as a fundraising platform through which open water swimmers can dedicate a solo or group swim to a worthy South African cause. Since its inception, Swim For Hope has raised over R600,000 for different charities, in addition to media coverage to the value of more than R1 million. The project’s current beneficiary is MUZUKIDZ which, after 5 years working exclusively in Cape Town, has now also opened a branch in Port Elizabeth. Operating from Settlers Park Primary in Walmer, Muzukidz has one teacher in PE, who has taken 50 young children from townships in and around PE under her wing. Children are taught at no cost to the families and Muzukidz relies solely on external funding to cover costs for teachers, instruments and teaching material. The organisation hopes to be able to appoint a second teacher and reach 150 children by mid-2020.
“Muzukidz is the perfect beneficiary, as I truly believe in empowering South Africans and growing South Africa through education, and being more of a performer than a teacher myself, I was delighted to discover this amazing organisation as it represented everything I was hoping to support as a musician. I believe that giving a child the opportunity to learn a musical instrument goes way beyond the ability to make music or the possibility of being a musician one day. Music stimulates the brain in a very special way; in fact studies have shown that children who do 14 months of musical training displayed more powerful structural and functional brain changes. Imagine what this can do for a young child who comes from a poor background and who has limited opportunities and a limited support structure. I am convinced that organisations like Muzukidz are helping to mould our future leaders, inventors and change makers.”
Members of the public, as well as corporates are invited to follow Carina Bruwer’s social media interfaces (facebook and instagram) for live updates from the water on the day of the swim and are encouraged to sponsor and donate. Corporate sponsors can also contact Maria Botha on firstname.lastname@example.org for organisational and any other information.
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