High­light­ing threat to oceans

The Sun­day Tri­bune Game Changer se­ries give a voice to those who are mak­ing this world a bet­ter place for na­ture and for peo­ple. Email your nom­i­na­tions to tri­bune­news@inl.co.za

Sunday Tribune - - METRO - MYR­TLE RYAN

DUR­BAN-BASED Sarah Fer­gu­son, 36, swims to high­light the plight of many of our oceans’ in­hab­i­tants and fo­cus at­ten­tion on the threat of plas­tics in the sea. In July she swam 100km over a six-day pe­riod from Ponta Do­bela in Mozam­bique to Sod­wana Bay.

“When I was just a baby, my par­ents took me to the beach. I crawled straight to the wa­ter and my mother had to con­stantly drag me back from the ‘dan­ger’. I could swim be­fore I walked,” she said.

In Stan­dard 5 (Grade 7) she won the top fe­male sport award (Vic­trix lu­do­rum) for swim­ming. She is in­debted to her par­ents’ com­mit­ment: ar­rang­ing for her to join a swim­ming team in Cape Town. Her mother drove her to train­ing ses­sions ev­ery day.

“Train­ing (for ocean swims) is where the hard work is; it gets tough and of­ten lonely try­ing to put in the mileage. There are few other swim­mers in Dur­ban who want to swim for five hours at a time, so I have to be cre­ative, split­ting ses­sions into smaller chunks, to al­low dif­fer­ent peo­ple to join me.”

Her train­ing in­cludes ex­po­sure to cold wa­ter, night swim­ming, brav­ing big shore breaks, long pool swims and strength train­ing to pre­vent in­jury.

She fol­lows a com­pre­hen­sive nu­tri­tion plan, re­searches the sur­round­ings of a planned swim and takes ad­vice from the lo­cals. “Hold­ing down a full­time job does not al­ways al­low for the re­cov­ery time needed be­tween train­ing swims, and there is a con­stant men­tal bat­tle – to train or not, to fin­ish a ses­sion early, al­ways know­ing you can­not af­ford to get sick or in­jured,” she said.

She was in­spired by Lewis Pugh, en­durance swim­mer and ocean ad­vo­cate. “I was read­ing his au­to­bi­og­ra­phy when my dream to swim the Ka’iwi Chan­nel, in Hawaii started. Linda Kaiser, Lynne Cox and Diana Nyad are all leg­endary open-wa­ter swim­mers. Each helped me in my jour­ney in a small way. Fer­gu­son ad­vises young swim­mers never to for­get why they swim. “You love it. It’s all about the process, not the des­ti­na­tion.


SARAH FER­GU­SON draped in the South African flag at the end of her 100km swim along the Ele­phant Coast. |

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