Pretoria News Weekend - - CELEB - LIAM KARABO JOYCE

ALL HE needed was four votes out of nine to be crowned the sole sur­vivor and walk away a mil­lion­aire, and that’s ex­actly what hap­pened for Tom Swartz. He won Sur­vivor South Africa: Philip­pines last week at a star-stud­ded fi­nale in Cape Town. The 41-year-old from the Eastern Cape won over the hearts of the jury af­ter last­ing 39 days in the wild. Head of an anti-poach­ing unit, Swartz was not the most loved by fel­low cast­aways or view­ers, but in the game of Sur­vivor, with R1 mil­lion at stake, you must out­wit, out­play and out­last.

Born and raised in Ama­linda, East Lon­don, Swartz said while grow­ing up, he was al­ways out­side play­ing. “My child­hood was wild. I al­ways had cuts and bruises as a child, I was al­ways out­side play­ing,” he said.

He con­tin­ued to stay in East Lon­don and start a fam­ily there, un­til he moved to Port El­iz­a­beth five years ago for a job. “I was of­fered a job as head of an anti-poach­ing unit in PE. I am a diver and a con­ser­va­tion­ist so when I was asked to head up a unit that stopped poach­ers from tak­ing our abalone from our oceans, it only made sense. They also needed some­one that was a lit­tle crazy and I fit the pro­file per­fectly,” he said.

Af­ter a chat full of laughs and jokes with Swartz, it’s easy to see why he won.

Why did you de­cide to en­ter

I have al­ways wanted to be on Sur­vivor, or at least a show like it, be­cause I wanted to prove to my­self and to oth­ers I can sur­vive in th­ese cir­cum­stances

How did you pre­pare for Sur­vivor? Sur­vivor?

I started eat­ing less. It might sound weird to some peo­ple be­cause you would prob­a­bly start eat­ing more know­ing you would not be eat­ing ev­ery day, but I wanted to get used to that. So I ate less and I started do­ing lots of car­dio work­outs just to keep fit… it re­ally helped be­cause the ex­tent of the hunger I went through was in­sane.

Did you have a strat­egy and what was it?

I wanted to be a provider to the rest of the cast­aways be­cause I wanted to be needed. When­ever my name came up be­fore tribal coun­cil, I wanted peo­ple to say: “No, we need him” and I think I was suc­cess­ful with that.

What was the big­gest mis­con­cep­tion you had of this game?

I thought that they would give us a protein bar if they saw us near dy­ing from star­va­tion, but they do not. If you do not catch it or hunt it, you don’t eat.

Take me through your most dif­fi­cult day on the is­land?

For a lot of other cast­aways, dif­fi­cult days were when they were re­ally hun­gry, but for me it was the so­cial as­pect. There were a num­ber of peo­ple that just did not en­joy my com­pany and when you merge, you don’t have the sup­port of a tribe when it comes to im­mu­nity chal­lenges, so that was my most dif­fi­cult day.

What was the so­cial game like for you?

I don’t think any­thing can pre­pare you for the so­cial as­pect of this game, it is next level crazy. One day you are in with the cool kids, the next you are out. One day peo­ple like you and the next day they can’t stand your pres­ence. It was al­ways crazy and dif­fi­cult to deal with. Once Vusi came to me with a name to write down when we got to tribal coun­cil and, 20 min­utes be­fore tribal coun­cil, that all changed with no warn­ing.

While on the is­land what did you miss?

I missed peo­ple that I could trust and peo­ple that I loved. I re­ally missed a fridge that you could open, and the light would come on and there was food you could eat. Not just any food, but food you ac­tu­ally liked.

Af­ter your wife vis­ited you on the is­land things changed, you seemed mo­ti­vated?

Oh yes, ab­so­lutely! I missed her a lot and her visit changed things for me be­cause I needed the boost and mo­ti­va­tion and re­ally,

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