Sunday, September 27, 2020

First woman to swim across Algoa Bay did it all in the name of charity


Carina Bruwer founded Swim For Hope in 2014 for open water swimmers who are willing to towards a worthy South African cause. She broke the record last week when she became the first woman in South Africa to swim from Pollok Beach in Summerstrand, Port Elizabeth to Bluewater Bay on the Coega side of Algoa Bay in support of Muzukidz, an organization that offers underprivileged children the opportunity to learn the violin.

Over the past 20 years, three male swimmers have completed the swim across Algoa Bay. PE swimmer and adventurer Kyle Main did the 20km crossing from Hobie beach to Coega for the first time in 2000, while Chris Malan completed a 15km crossing across the Bay in 2003 at the age of 15. The Capetonian swimmer was supported by a group of children from the local Muzukidz project who saw her off with some music as she embarked on her challenge to become the first woman to swim across the Bay. She completed the swim in 05:08, for a distance of about 19km.

“The kids just gave me so much joy, so I entered the water with a sense of purpose. It was not an easy swim; the temperature was a few degrees colder than I would have liked for a long swim. This one was extra intricate due to the complexity of passing shipping lanes, harbours and the high shark population. I could not have dreamed of doing it without all the groundwork and assistance provided by Adventure Swims ZA, and the support of the people of PE has been simply heartwarming”.

Sports company Adventure Swims ZA took care of all the planning and permissions pertaining to the crossing, and provided two boats and a team consisting of pilots, a rescue swimmer and a medic. The crew included well-known local swimmer’s PJ Duffy, Kevin Richards and Ralph West. Dolphins and whales were swimming within 200m of Bruwer and the crew spotted a hammerhead shark during the first half of the swim, but it posed no threat to the determined swimmer. The Port Authority, NSRI, KB Surf lifesaving and Guardmed were on standby throughout the swim to assist in case of an emergency.

Bruwer is an International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame nominee who was also ranked as one of the World Open Water Swimming Association’s top 50 most “daring, courageous and audacious” open water swimmers in the world in 2015 and 2018. According to Bruwer: “We have exceeded the R25,000 mark and going strong; in fact, I have increased the target and I know we can make this huge. Each additional R1,000 buys another violin, which literally changes at least one life,”. As a musician herself, Bruwer also performs with the internationally renowned instrumental group Sterling EQ.

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