Swimming for charity


23 February 2020 | Events

Francois du Toit; Organiser; “The swimmers are mainly from Namibia.”

Walvis Bay • [email protected]

Twenty-eight swimmers braved the cold Atlantic ocean by swimming from the Walvis Bay lighthouse to the Swakopmund lighthouse on Saturday.

The swim was hosted by Madswimmers, a non-profit organisation based in South Africa to generate funds for children’s charities. It all began in 2009, when Jean Craven and Tim Ziehl made a bet with their friends that they could swim across the Strait of Gibraltar, linking Europe with Africa. They completed the 17km crossing from Spain to Morocco in just 4 hours and 22 minutes.

Feeling sorry for taking betting monies collected from their friends (about N$100 000), they decided to donate the money to various children’s charities and orphanages. In this way Madswimmers was born and since inception, the organisation has raised over N$13.4 million (U$900 000) for children’s charities and completed over 36 swims across the world.

According to Francios du Toit of Madswimmers, this is the first open water swim of this distance to be hosted in Namibia.

“It’s definitely a unique swim. The route basically consisted of a 24km swim from Pelican Point to the Mole in Swakopmund. The swimmers are mainly from Namibia, while three came from South Africa and one from Russia.”

These daring men and women completed the swim in just under nine hours.

The swimmers were Kieron Palframan (RSA), Emil Berning (RSA), Francois du Toit (RSA), Natalia Chuich (Russia), Allison Fourie (Namibia), Jaco Fourie (Namibia), Lindy van den Bosch (Namibia), Petri Ackermann (Namibia), Bobby Jo Bassingthwaighte (Namibia), Jasper Lochner (Namibia), Wynand Dreyer (Namibia), Bruce Salt (Namibia), Andrew Rowles (Namibia), Mark Spath (Namibia), Ettienne Marais (Namibia), Roual Spangenberg (Namibia), Archie Graham (Namibia), Anton Swart (Namibia), Adriaan Maritz (Namibia), Henk Schoeman (Namibia), Ulrich Schoeman (Namibia), Herman van der Merwe (Namibia), Zoe Mitchell (Namibia) Derrick Langford (Namibia), Irma van Rooyen (Namibia), Miena Chase (Namibia), Jan Louis Mostert (Namibia) and Kiewiet le Roux (Namibia).

The idea was to raise N$50 000, which will be donated to Stepping Stones Special Education School in Swakopmund and to Guild Cottage, a specialised facility for the rehabilitation of seriously traumatised girls, based in Johannesburg, South Africa.

Currently the amount stands at N$53 415.77 and people can still donate at https://www.backabuddy.co.za/champion/project/lighthouse-2-lighthouse-swim-namibia

Anton Swart, one of the Namibian swimmers, said that it was one of the hardest swims he has ever done.

“You are alone out there, with the huge ocean in front of you. So you really need to be mentally strong to attempt something like this. My family waiting for me on the other side is what kept me going and I am truly glad I completed it.”

This was his second time to swim such a long distance.

“The weather played a major role in the swim and made it somewhat easier. The ocean was very calm, which definitely worked in our favour. The water temperature was also not too cold nor too warm. I really enjoyed it.”

Almarie Mostert, principal and founder of Stepping Stone Special Education School, eagerly awaited the swimmers at the finish line. The school is starting building their own, bigger and better school.

“The money from Madswimmers will be going towards our building fund. Basically any fundraising money will go towards that this year. I really want to commend Madswimmers for taking on this daring initiative to assist children.”

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