Highlighting threat to oceans
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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. |