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Capetonians take on Island2Bays Challenge for Philippi kids

On August 25, 2018, two Cape Town fathers, Rob Peters and Shaun Lilford, will take on a biathlon of epic proportions, a Robben Island Crossing, followed by a run from Eden on the Bay to Hout Bay in the inaugural Island2Bays Challenge. Peters and Lilford are taking on this gargantuan task in an effort to raise awareness and funds for the Headstart Swim School at Philippi Children’s Centre (PCC) in Cape Town, South Africa.

The Robben Island Crossing is an iconic 7.5km open water swim from Robben Island to Big Bay beach. Despite the gruelling nature of swimming in the freezing Atlantic Ocean in nothing but a costume, it is a bucket-list experience. Most people, however, are happy to stop at the beach, but these two local dads will push on with a 44km+ run, finishing on Hout Bay beach, in an effort to give the kids at Philippi Children’s Centre a chance at becoming water-safe.

In 2017, a covered heated swimming pool was opened at PCC. Construction was largely funded by an American donor, Love to Langa, while Headstart Swim School has been contracted to do the coaching. The swim school has supported this project as part of its CSI programme, with considerable outlay in terms of time, expertise and finance.

Lessons for children at PCC are at very low subsidised costs, but even these modest rates are proving beyond the means of most parents. Coaching is offered to other members of the community, but to date, take up of commercial lessons is slow, hampered by the fact that PCC is located in a rural area with little public transport.

The PCC Board recently announced an ambitious project to promote water safe children at the school by teaching them to swim. For this initiative to bear fruit, funding of R220 000 is needed. Peters and Lilford will be using the Island2Bays Challenge to raise awareness and funds for the swim school at PCC.

“I have always wanted to give something back to those less-fortunate than myself and the decision to take on the Island2Bays was an easy one when I considered who would benefit most from it,” says Peters.

“It is also an opportunity to show my own kids that they have been given a head start, both in terms of swimming and life in general, by virtue of their privilege. I would love nothing more than for them to use that head start to give back at some point as well.”

Over 75% of drownings in South Africa each year occur among children under the age of five, making swimming lessons incredibly important, and for Lilford, a lifeguard at Clifton Lifesaving Club, water safety is something that hits very close to home and the decision to join Peters on the Island2Bays Challenge was driven by this.

“I love coaching, and getting involved with children and enriching their lives,“ says Lilford. “If I can do something that is going to help a child be in a better position – in this case learning to swim – it’s a big motivator for me.”

For Philippi Children’s Centre and the Headstart Swim School, the Island2Bays Challenge was a natural fit.

“Headstart Swim School is delighted to have connected with Rob and Sean and fully support the Island2Bays Challenge. We have a common goal in giving back to our communities and share a passion in making it possible for underprivileged communities to learn to swim,” says Janice Probyn of the Headstart Swim School.

For more information on the Island2Bays Challenge: email Rob Peters on or visit

To make a donation:

For more information on Phillipi Children’s Centre:

For more information on how to sponsor a child at Headstart Swim School, email:


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