Olympic swimming champion Ryk Neethling has been announced as CEO of the Princess Charlene of Monaco Foundation in South Africa.
Friends from their days of competitive swimming‚ Princess Charlene said in a statement: “Ryk is a true champion – a man of integrity‚ talent and remarkable inner strength. He is passionate about water safety and will‚ I know‚ take my Foundation from strength to strength in South Africa.”
The foundation said the appointment was a voluntary position.
“Ryk is certainly one of the greatest swimmers this country has seen and he is keen to use his influence as an athlete to inspire young people and uplift communities. We are all thrilled that he has chosen to take on this new role – he is the right man for the job‚” said Gavin Varejes‚ businessman and president of The Princess Charlene of Monaco Foundation SA..
Neethling has served as an ambassador to the foundation since last year alongside Francois Pienaar and Terence Parkin in South Africa. He is also involved in the Laureus Sport for Good Foundation and is an ambassador for Hope Through Action.
In June this year‚ Neethling and former Springbok rugby player Percy Montgomery won the Riviera Water Bike Challenge in aid of the Princess Charlene foundation. The 21km ProAm relay race‚ from Nice to Monaco on water bikes‚ was the first race of its kind in the world and raised the funds to build an aquatic rescue centre in Burkina Faso‚ a project organised in partnership with the Monaco Red Cross and the Burkinabe Red Cross.
Neethling explained his commitment to the foundation’s goals: “Since my swimming career started at the age of five after a near-drowning incident‚ I have shared the same passion for water safety as Her Serene Highness Princess Charlene. Twenty-five years ago‚ we both began representing South Africa at international swimming competitions‚ and it is an incredible honour for me to now be entrusted with the task of leading her Foundation here in our country… The cause is a critical one.”
The Princess Charlene of Monaco Foundation was established in 2012 and has since reached over 300‚000 people worldwide in its quest to reduce death by drowning. It focuses on raising public awareness about the dangers of water‚ teaching children essential water safety skills and how to swim.
The World Health Organisation estimates that drowning claims the lives of more than 60‚000 children under the age of five and more than 360‚000 people globally each year. In South Africa‚ the foundation said drowning is the second leading cause of accidental death after road accidents.
In 2016‚ the Princess Charlene of Monaco Foundation SA taught 2‚507 children to swim and 27‚242 children essential water safety skills through 23 projects in South Africa.
A month ago‚ the foundation partnered with Lifesaving South Africa in order to expand its work across the country.
More information on the Foundation can be found at http://www.fondationprincessecharlene.mc/en
Source: TMG Digital.