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Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Dodging Crocs And Hippos And Doing Good In Lake Malawi

In 1992, Lewis Pugh, the world's foremost pioneering swimmer, and Otto Thaning, the fastest English Channel swimmer over the age of 50 (10:29), became the first men to swim across Lake Malawi that has been described as a lake of stars.

Lake Malawi sits between Malawi, Mozambique, and Tanzania in eastern Africa and is the eighth largest lake in the world with tropical waters that are the habitat of more species of fish than any other lake on Earth.

On May 1st, Abigail Brown will attempt to be the first woman to swim 25 km across Lake Malawi from Makanjira on Cape Ngobo to the popular tourist beach in Senga Bay, replicating the course that Pugh and Otto pioneered years ago.

As Pugh wrote about his swim, "Beating down on my insufficiently protected legs, back, arms and face, the sun became my biggest enemy. By halfway, I was somewhere between human and a lobster. After five hours I was feeling it; seven hours and I was in agony."

While the renowned extreme cold water swimmer Pugh was in agony due to the heat, Abigail will be dodging crocodiles and hippopotamus for an estimated 10-12 hours as she traverses 25K across Lake Malawi.

Abigail will swim between the narrowest point between the East and West shorelines.

As Lewis recalls, "...we remember that hippos like shallow waters. Fear certainly drove me and I never looked up through the first minute or two."

Abigail will be swimming in order to fund two causes: Microloan Foundation provides microcredit to help people lift themselves out of poverty and Chembe Village supports lakeside development projects at Cape Maclear.

Abigail's upbringing and education has taken her all over the world before settling down for this challenge. "I am a Wiltshire lass born in 1984, but brought up in the Far East and Africa. I’m never happier than when I’m outdoors, especially in the water. I moved to Malawi 18 months ago to take up a job at Imani Development.

Ever since, I've been hooked on the mountains, the game parks and The Lake. It’s a far cry from the jungles of the concrete variety in Beijing where I gained my masters in International Affairs from Peking University and cut my teeth on development work with the European Union."

"I’m fascinated by China’s growing presence in the world and I wanted to see it first hand in Africa. After spending a couple of months at the Centre for Chinese Studies in South Africa, I made my way overland to Malawi, relishing the wide open spaces of Namibia, Zambia and Mozambique

She'll have plenty of wide open spaces on Lake Malawi to see some of her dreams come true.

Copyright © 2010 by World Open Water Swimming Association

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