Group splashes out on Robben Is­land swim to help needy teens

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - NEWS - NONI MOKATI

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.

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