Hundreds of thousands raised for KZN charities at the Oceans 8 Charity Swim

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The conditions were near-perfect as some 172 swimmers competed in the 1 Mile, 4 Mile, and 8 Mile events at the Oceans 8 Charity Swim which took place at Durban Undersea Club on 15 and 16 June. This annual fundraiser saw more than R800k raised for 14 local charities – with donations still coming in.

This year, the swimmers competed across a new route which went over the end of Vetch’s Reef, giving participants a clear view of the marine life. In addition to its charitable drive, the event also focuses on sustainability, with no evidence left on the beach that the event took place. Swimmers were provided with reusable water bottles, water-on-tap, and minimum packaging, with the crews from Adopt-a-River on site to sort all waste into compostable, recyclable, and saleable.

In fine form, Kloof resident Matt Pelser (21) won all eight events over the weekend, raising R5 920 for the National Sea Rescue Institute (NSRI). He praised the organisation of the event, saying this year’s course was so interesting to swim.

“The conditions couldn’t have been better. This is becoming one of my favourite swims – the people running the event, the event itself, and the fact that everyone is swimming to raise money for wonderful charities is just amazing.”

Russell Munroe (49) from Fourways in Joburg was the top fundraiser overall, raising R42 080 for Singakwenza Early Childhood Education. Describing the event as ‘amazing’, Russell said the water clarity was a definitely highlight.

“We could see fireweed with its bioluminescence, lionfish, mullet, and numerous other reef fish, with one group spotting a sting ray. There was a negligible amount of plastic in the sea and the beaches looked in pristine condition. It’s clear there was a concerted effort by Durban residents to make this section look the way it does.” 

Working in education, Russell said he strongly believes in the work Singakwenza does: “They provide much-needed assistance to young learners in previously disadvantaged communities with many innovative ideas, be it occupational therapy or teaching aids. Oceans 8 is a great initiative, creating awareness about the need to preserve our natural heritage.”

Oceans 8 Charity Swim event spokesperson, Hilary Bruss, said it took a lot of collaboration to make the event a success: “We’d like to extend our appreciation to everyone involved in making the Oceans 8 Charity Swim such a huge success, as well as sending our congratulations to all the top achievers and to those who were competing in their first-ever ocean swimming event.

“This includes our incredible development swimmers who, under the guidance of their coach Lungisani Zulu from Lamontville Swimming Academy, did so well. Their entries were all sponsored by anonymous donors, just one of the many ways we got to witness awesome camaraderie, support, and encouragement on the day.”

She said the Durban Undersea Club was packed with swimmers, spectators, sponsors, and vendors – all part of the community supporting the various causes: “We had whole families participating, with parents doing the 8 Mile and children doing the 4 Mile or 1 Mile events. We also welcomed donations, in one way or another, from 58 companies. We couldn’t have done it without the event sponsors, prize and goodie bag donors, or the swimmers and all their generous donors.”

The Oceans 8 Charity Swim is the country’s first-of-its-kind open water swim, organised exclusively by charities for charities. This swim was started by founding charities – Duzi Umngeni Conservation Trust (DUCT – www.duct.org.za), the National Sea Rescue Institute (NSRI – www.nsri.org.za), Project Rhino (www.projectrhinokzn.org), and Singakwenza Early Childhood Education (www.singakwenza.co.za) – to provide a sustainable flow of funding to 14 charities with a footprint in KZN. The 8 Mile swimmers raised funds for the founding charities and the funds from the 1 Mile and 4 Mile events were shared by the 10 invitational charities.

These include Adopt-a-River (www.adoptariversa.org), Caversham Education Institute (www.cavershaminstitute.co.za), CROW – The Centre for the Rehabilitation of Wildlife (www.crowkzn.co.za), the Game Rangers’ Association of Africa (www.gameranger.org), International Sailors’ Society of Southern Africa (www.saiss.co.za), Kerr House (www.kerrhouse.co.za), Liberty NPO (www.libertynpo.co.za), One Planet S.A. (www.oneplanet.org.za), Wildlife ACT (www.wildlifeact.com), and Umduduzi – Hospice Care for Children (www.umduduzi.co.za).

This year, the total amount raised for the 14 charities is R809,967 to date, with more donations still coming in.

“If you’re one of those people who has always wanted to do an open water sea event but are a bit nervous about trying the ocean, this is the event to do! Crystal clear seas, flat, calm waters, the most incredible conditions for any swimmer – in line with the best in the world,” concluded Bruss.

Watch out for next year’s Oceans 8 Charity Swim by visiting www.oceans8swim.co.za or following @oceans8_charityswim on Instagram and oceans8swim on Facebook.