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Thursday, October 31, 2013

Swimming Where No Man Has Swum Before

Thane Guy Williams (shown on left) and Jonno Proudfoot (shown below) will be careful to document their GPS coordinates on their stage swim between Nacala on the central east coast of Mozambique to a landing point 200 km southwest of Mahajanga in Madagascar in the Mozambique Channel. "We will start each swim from the same point we get out in the previous day's swim. It will be an unassisted swim which means we will not use shark nets, wetsuits, cage, flippers or breathing apparatus."

The duo plans to be at sea for a maximum of 35 days and understand that the distance could be longer than 500 km depending on the currents.

"We expect weather and dangerous sea life to cause hindrances in our swimming routine," explained Williams. "As a result, we will need to average at 20 km a day. We expect that we will have to miss a few days of swimming due to disruptions." But in order to follow the traditions and rules of stage swimming, they will get in the water every day even if there is a storm and they simply jump in and out of the rough seas."

Currently, they are swimming 50 km a week but by mid-December they will be up to 90 km of training distance per week. In January, they will swim three weeks in a row of 100 km weeks. They will follow this cycle with a taper, allowing for a month of easier swimming and recovery before the swim.

Williams explains his purpose for attempting this unprecedented journey, “Swimming and the ocean have been such a huge part of my life. I’ve been swimming for myself and competitively for over 15 years and it has taken me places and given me great memories, friendships and opportunities. Now it's time to swim for others. I want to give something back to children. To give them an opportunity to smile with others and to start a great life with confidence. Life can be a tough and complicated place for the kids of today and the ability to simply smile shouldn’t have to be their major problem. With my passion for the ocean, swimming, adventure, and a touch of madness, I can’t imagine a better way to help make a difference.

Proudfoot adds his reasons for the idea of the Mad Swim that was dreamed up on a drive home from an Ironman race, "I’ve always thought of myself as someone who is very generous and charitable. Upon completing my degree last year and looking back on what I’d accomplished, I was shocked to see that apart from tipping car guards and petrol attendants, I’d actually given almost nothing to a real cause since school. My degree was one of the longest, painful and frustrating things I’ve ever done, but the feeling of finishing lit the fire for some more punishment. Adding this drive to push myself to the limits to my shocking realisation about charity, we decided to do something ridiculous and swim to Madagascar. Only this time, for a selfless cause."

Their crew will be as small as possible. Besides pilot David de Villiers and the boat crew of the Ocean Adventurer, they will photographer Damien Schumann, and doctor Daphne Lyell. de Villiers, with 150,000 blue water miles under his belt, has travelled to some of the most remote places on earth and has effectively circumnavigated the globe 6 times.

Ocean adventurer 2 is the newest boat in his fleet. Fast but economical, the 82-foot power catamaran will serve as the team's escort, navigational base, and expedition platform. "It has lots of deck space, comfortable in most sea conditions, and a large range that makes any task possible."

Schumann, also known as Skollie, will be the team's photographer and media contact. In 2011 Mail & Guardian recognized Schumann as one of the most influential youths in South Africa. He has also been an artist in residence in Brazil, awarded a National Arts Grant and was nominated for Ikusasa’s Artist of the Year 2012.

The crew is ready for anything and everything. "Our best result will be to finish in about 25 days, we will have a maximum of 35 days to complete the swim. On days that the current is favourable we will have to maximize on mileage."

And they will be fed well. "As for diet, we want to keep it as natural and uncomplicated as possible with lots of protein and fat. But basically whatever it takes to get us through the swim. We have had lots of input and advice on what to eat, but I believe that you race like you train. So whatever works for us in training should get us through the swim. Which means lots a chocolate for me."

Nicknamed The Mad Swim, an abbreviation for the Madagascar Swim, its website is here. Its Facebook page is here.

Copyright © 2013 by World Open Water Swimming Association

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