EThek­wini life­guard wins Four El­e­ments Ocean Chal­lenge

Vuk'uzenzele - - Sport, Arts Culture - Hlengiwe Ngob­ese

“IT WAs A greAT swim­ming course and the race was all about ocean con­ser­va­tion. For some­one who spends ev­ery day on the beach, this is some­thing I am pas­sion­ate about,” says Sanele Nx­u­malo.

An eThek­wini life­guard made the city proud in the big­gest Four El­e­ments Ocean Chal­lenge re­cently, tak­ing first place.

Chal­lenge win­ner Sanele Nx­u­malo (30) was one of 130 dar­ing par­tic­i­pants signed up for the fourth an­nual Four El­e­ments Ocean Chal­lenge – a five-kilo­me­tre open-wa­ter swim from eThek­wini’s Point Yacht Club to the Coun­try Club Beach.

Nx­u­malo de­scribes the Chal­lenge as “one of the most im­por­tant races of the year” as it pro­vides a great op­por­tu­nity to in­ter­act with the public he is ded­i­cated to pro­tect­ing on his home turf.

The pro­fes­sional life­guard came se­cond in 2015 and third in 2016.

“It was a great swim­ming course and the race was all about ocean con­ser­va­tion. For some­one who spends ev­ery day on the beach, this is some­thing I am pas­sion­ate about. It’s im­por­tant for peo­ple to be taught the im­por­tance of con­ser­va­tion es­pe­cially on Dur­ban’s beach­front, which is one of the coun­try’s most iconic sites,” he said.

Nx­u­malo is a three-time Life­guard En­durance Cham­pion, the win­ner of the 2016 Mi­way Surf Swim com­pe­ti­tion, a Life­sav­ing Iron­man and a sil­ver medal win­ner in the se­nior men’s surf swim cat­e­gory at the South African Still­wa­ter Na­tion­als.

“It was ex­cit­ing to have a num­ber of new­com­ers from the life­guard fra­ter­nity join­ing us on the swim this year,” he said, adding that life­guards were al­ways ex­cited for any surf sport-re­lated event.

Pro­tect­ing the city’s beaches

Thando Thusi, who has been in­volved with the eThek­wini life­guard unit in var­i­ous roles for the past 18 years, also took on the 2017 Chal­lenge.

He ex­plains that there is of­ten a mis­con­cep­tion that life­guards spend their time re­lax­ing on the beach. But the re­al­ity is very dif­fer­ent. “Be­com­ing a life­guard is not an easy process and we train in the ocean daily to keep fit­ness lev­els up and check safety con­di­tions,” he says.

The chal­lenge in­tro­duced a new prize cat­e­gory this year, with prizes awarded to the first three pro­fes­sional eThek­wini life­guards who com­pleted the swim. Nx­u­malo, Thusi and Lucky Mabuya walked away with the prizes. Chal­lenge CEO Olivia Taylor says the or­gan­i­sa­tion wanted to hon­our the un­sung he­roes who had made a pro­fes­sional ca­reer out of look­ing af­ter vis­i­tors to Dur­ban’s beaches. “How­ever, the event was not only about win­ning prizes, it was about a group of com­mit­ted swim­mers cel­e­brat­ing our frag­ile and beau­ti­ful ocean and rais­ing funds to ed­u­cate young en­vi­ron­men­tal en­trepreneurs.”

Taylor, a stu­dent at the Uni­ver­sity of Stel­len­bosch, es­tab­lished Four El­e­ments Con­ser­va­tion NPC, a non-profit en­vi­ron­men­tal preser­va­tion or­gan­i­sa­tion, five years ago, when she was 14 years old.

The Four El­e­ments Ocean Chal­lenge is one of the or­gan­i­sa­tion’s projects that raise funds for, and aware­ness of, ocean con­ser­va­tion.

Funds raised from this year’s swim will go to­wards the launch of an on­line ed­u­ca­tion pro­gramme that fo­cuses on en­vi­ron­men­tal en­trepreneur­ship for youth.

Draw­ing at­ten­tion to ocean con­ser­va­tion are Sanele Nx­u­malo, Olivia Taylor, Ayanda Maphumulo and Thando Thusi.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from South Africa

© PressReader. All rights reserved.