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Friday, December 28, 2012

Cecilia Schutte, Round And Round She Goes

Capetonian Cecilia Schutte, the first South African woman to swim an Ice Mile‚ successfully completed a triple 33 km circumnavigation around Robben Island in 12 hours 23 minutes, three times around the renowned heritage site.

In 2011, she did her Ice Mile and a longer 23 km charity swim from Big Bay beach around Robben Island and back. In 2012, she decided to step up the challenge with the Robben Island Circle of Life Swim. She started at the Oceana Boat Club near the V&A Waterfront last Saturday despite rough ocean conditions. Relentless ocean swells considerably slowed her down and forced her out to sea on the third circumnavigation as she followed her support team safely in a larger and longer circle around Robben Island. Her crew, with Buff van Westenbrugge onboard, guided to safety and to the Cape Long Distance Swimming Association record books.

"The conditions were fine when I started," explained Schutte. "But on the second round I hit a choppy patch and on the third round, the conditions were exceedingly rough. I had to swim a bit further out [from the island] because of the conditions of the waves breaking on the reef.

Nelson Mandela was already in jail for 16 years [on Robben Island] when I was born in 1978. His leadership style and humble approach as well as his vision and persistence in the face of extraordinary adversity left their mark on my heart. I want to honour him, our country's greatest leader, by raising money for our youth program, 'Splash'. It's an initiative where anyone can adopt a child for R450 and enable them to learn about water safety and also how to swim. It's sad and unnecessary that South Africa has one of the highest incidences of drowning in the world. I have dedicated every action in my life and all my swimming endeavors to raising funds for socio-development projects and improving conditions, especially among our youth. I see it as my duty to use my swimming talent to assist and particularly to educate and enable young people in need

Her self-motivated duty has translated to her Robben Island Circle of Life Swim. Her charitable goal is to complete another 37.5 km ocean swim in February in preparation for more ice swims and a longer 42 km marathon swim during the 2013 season.

Copyright © 2012 by World Open Water Swimming Association

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