Swim to save rivers

Extreme event raises pollution awareness

THE fourth in the series of Swim for Rivers for Life open water swims will be taking place in the Eastern Cape from October 14 to 21.

Swim for Rivers is a project about rivers and people, by swimmers.

GOING SWIMMINGLY: The open water swimming team from Swim for Rivers for Life will take to the water and their education campaign next week Picture: SUPPLIED

It is the initiative of extreme open water swimmer Andrew Chin from Cape Town, joined this year by East London open water swimmers Mandy Uys, Joy Roach and Sean Murray.

Chin’s swim career includes 30 Robben Island swims, a team world-first around Cape Horn, a 1km swim in Antarctica at 0.5 °C, a Magellan Straits crossing, two Alcatraz crossings, a 1900km relay swim down the Orange River, an Antarctic swim, two Llandudno to Cape Point swims, and a swim around Cape Point.

Roach and Uys completed a 25km open water swim in the Seychelles in 2015 for charity, and many other long-distance events.

They are generally happiest when swimming long distances in wild and free spaces.

The swimmers at the start of their swim through the rivers of South Africa

Murray is an accomplished triathlete and coordinates the local open water swimming scene in East London, and has many open water events behind him.

In recent years, Chin decided he would like to give back to the open water world. He launched Swim for Rivers for Life, which has since become a registered NPO, Swim for Rivers.

The project’s vision is to raise awareness among children of the plight of South African rivers, one province at a time.

The athletes swim a portion of a local river and then engage with nearby pupils or communities about the ecology of rivers, what causes them to become degraded, how ordinary citizens can monitor their health, how to reduce water pollution, how to be water wise and, particularly, how to be water safe.

Chin and partners have now completed three provinces: a 200km swim on the Wilge River in Gauteng, a 100km swim/run/paddle down the Berg River in the Western Cape, and last year, a 70km section of the Orange River in Northern Cape, partnered by Mandy Uys.

The team interacted with more than 1000 pupils during this swim week.

Due to the drought and the low water levels in Eastern Cape rivers, Chin and his team are opting to swim 10km in each of seven estuaries in the Eastern Cape over a period of seven days.

They will swim the Kromme, Gamtoos, Sundays, Bushmans, Kowie, Keiskamma, Gonubie/Kwelera, and Nahoon rivers. On each day they will engage with one or more local schools or community groups, largely organised by project partners, the Wildlife and Environment Society of South Africa (Wessa).

They will present and/or demonstrate the Mini SASS5 river biomonitoring method which can be used by citizens to assess the health of the freshwater sections of rivers. They will also present Mini-SASS DVDs and forms, and introduce pupils to the concept of taking responsibility for the environment.

Swim for Rivers for Life visits schools and communities to teach children about the plight of our rivers

This year, Swim for Rivers is joined by Hippo Rollers (rolling water barrels) whose products will be demonstrated along the way. They will present each school with water purification devices (for example, Lifestraws) donated by Aqua4Life.

The project has also linked to NSRI’s Waterwise, a programme which aims to improve the water safety of children countrywide and to reduce the extremely high incidence of child drownings each year (estimated at 600).

The team is largely self-funded, with some sponsorship from Chatz Connect and products from Speedo SA. They are grateful to friends who have offered them accommodation along most of the swim.

Additional sponsorship is welcome in the form of donations, products or team sustenance.

If you are interested or able to assist, contact Chin on 083-708-1390/ chin@polka.co.za, Uys on 082-336-9838/ laughingh2o@icon.co.za or Roach on 082-714-3167/joybells23@gmail.com.


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