Group splashes out on Robben Island swim to help needy teens
LEWIS Pugh and Natalie du Toit have both braved the icy Atlantic Ocean to swim from Robben Island to Blouberg beach.
Now 40 men and women from Joburg’s northern suburbs are daring to do the same. The group of novice and professional swimmers will attempt to swim the 7.2km next Saturday in a bid to raise R400 000 for an educational project that has transformed the lives of 182 youngsters in Diepsloot, Alexandra, Soweto and Springs on the East Rand.
For the past four years, Geared for Life, run by ORT SA, has been helping Grade 10 pupils develop essential skills. The pupils, who can rarely afford tertiary education, are offered a one-year qualification course in marketing, project management and paralegal studies over three years, while still in high school.
Swimmers spent eight weeks training at the Sydenham swimming pool and in cold waters at a lake in Benoni. Although their families think it’s a “crazy stunt”, they maintain they are more than ready.
For married couple Wayne and Myrna Sachs, an occupational therapist and an accountant, the swim plan began as a dare.
“When Wayne told me he was going to do this I asked him ‘are you mad?’ He asked me to join him, but I was sceptical. But here we are today, ready as ever. We have our three kids and they are extremely proud of us,” said Myrna.
For the oldest swimmer, Andy Nossel, 54, of Killarney, the charity swim reinforces the love she has for swimming. The hospice counsellor has also swum in races at the Cape Town Waterfront.
Grade 9 pupil Evyatar Gerson and Grade 11 King David Linskfield pupil Aharon Shapiro will be the two youngest swimmers.
“Despite all the resources and facilities I have, I still struggle. How much more for these youngsters?” Aharon asked.
Swimmers include anaesthetist Kiki Marx, lawyer Louise Bick, interior designer Craig Nerwhich, engineer Colin Gluck and manufacturer Jason Lemmer. The group has also donated tickets and accommodation fees for two children to visit the beach for the first time.
“What motivates ORT SA to take on the highest mountains and swim the deepest seas? It is to grow from one experience and to challenge both ourselves and beneficiaries as a way of learning to overcome adversity,” said Robyn Smookler, head of ORT’s women empowerment division.
● For more information visit www.ortsa.org.za/donations
MARATHON SWIM: Some of the Joburg swimmers who plan to swim from Robben Island to Blouberg beach to raise funds for charity.