Nahoon nightmare

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Pollution going swimmingly in EC rivers

THE team from Swim for Rivers for Life ended their week-long swim down the estuaries and rivers of the Eastern Cape to educate youth about water pollution.

Project initiator Andrew Chin from Cape Town and East Londoners Mandy Uys, Joy Roach and Sean Murray did their last leg of their Eastern Cape swim down the Nahoon River coming to an end at the river mouth at Nahoon Beach.

DONE AND DUSTED: The swimmers from the Swim for River for Life ended their swim around the rivers of the Eastern Cape at the Nahoon River Mouth on Saturday. They are, from left, Andrew Chin, Nicky van Nierop, Mandy Uys (kneeling), the Caltex ‘endangered river rabbit’, Joy Roach, Sean Murray, Bruce van Nierop (road and river crew) and Lynne Reeves (surfski crew) Picture: MARGARET ALBRECHT

Uys was very disappointed with the quality of the water in the Nahoon River during their last swim of the project for the year.

“This river; the swim this morning, demonstrated everything we’re trying to say. It was really bad, the smell of sewage, the water was really dirty,” said Uys.

Chin said this year’s swim was very different from last year’s event as they only focused on one estuary last year expanding to eight this time around.

The Swim for Rivers for Life team put in the effort to get their message across

“This means I saw more of the Eastern Cape this year. Unfortunately, we saw a bit of pollution during our swims,” said Chin.

“However, we’ve seen some pristine sections too.”

As part of the project, the swimmers also visited schools along the route, teaching them valuable lessons by raising awareness among children of the plight of South African rivers, one province at a time.

“We’ve spoken to a number of schools along the way and I think we got the message across to the pupils. If half of them do what we’ve told them, we’ve achieved what we wanted to,” said Chin.

RIVER MATTERS: The members of the Swim for River for Life are seen visiting Nomzamo Seconday School in Port Alfred to give the pupils a talk about rivers

Uys concurred with Chin, saying the “project was a success”.

“We reached a lot of children [during the school visits] and got the message across to those who can make a difference. If the message got to only five kids, it’s more than we had before.”

Chin who has swum big open water swims around the world, including 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, to name a few.

Uys believes Chin’s experience and status as a long-distance open water swimmer puts him “in the position to push this project forward”.

Chin decided he would like to give back to the open water world. He launched, the then Rivers for Life, which has since become a registered NPO named 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 (Mini SASS), how to reduce water pollution, how to be water wise and, particularly on how to be water safe.

The team would like to thank all their sponsors for their assistance

They swam the Kromme, Gamtoos, Sundays, Bushmans, Kowie, Keiskamma, Gonubie/Kwelera and Nahoon rivers this year and will tackle KwaZulu-Natal next year.

They thanked the Wildlife and Environment Society of South Africa (Wessa), Speedo, Chatz Connect, Hippo Rollers, Aqua4Life, NSRI, Department of Water Affairs, and all their sponsors.

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