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Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Madswimmers Have High Goals In Ojos Swim

Courtesy of WOWSA, Huntington Beach, California.

High up on the slopes in Mount Kenya in water at 6.5°C, South African Madswimmers Jean Craven, Juandre Human, Hardi Wilkins and Megan Harrington-Johnson crossed the highest water body in Africa, Lewis Tarn at 4700 m above sea level.

An achievement in itself, their crossing was a training swim for their main swim in December on Mount Ojos del Salado in Chile, the highest lake in the world at nearly 6400m above sea level. To put their Ojos swim in perspective, there have been a handful of lake swims at extremely high altitudes:

* Lynne Cox became the first person to swim across Lake Titicaca from Bolivia to Peru at 3,812 meters (12,507 feet) when she swam 10 miles from the resort village of Copacabana in Bolivia to the village of Chimbo in Peru in 3 hours 48 minutes in 13-14°C (56-58°F) water in 1992.
* Cristian Vergara did a 7 km swim from the Isla de la Luna to the Isla del Sol in Lake Titicaca in May 2015.
* Lewis Pugh swam 1 km in 22 minutes 51 seconds in 2°C water at 5,200 meters (17,060 feet) across Lake Pumori, a glacial lake on the Khumbu Glacier on Mount Everest in 2010.

Dr, Sean Gottschalk, a specialist in altitude acclimatization and hypothermia treatment who accompanied Pugh on his swimming expedition in Tibet, will also accompany Madswimmer to Mount Ojos. "Swimming of the Lewis Tarn on Mount Kenya was a deal breaker test to determine how we would cope with the altitude and cold that we can expect on Mount Ojos swim," writes Craven.

Madswimmer is a South African non-profit company that was founded by Craven in 2009 after he won a R100,000 wager to swim accros the Strait of Gibraltar. Jean completed that swim with friend, Tim Ziehl. "Feeling sorry for taking betting monies from our friends, we decided to donate the money to charity and Madswimmer was born."

Since that first swim, Madswimmer has successfully completed 6 intercontinental swims. Craven has seen donations grow as the number of swims has increased. "A total of more than $300,000 for various charitable causes, all intended to inspire hope and enable opportunity in children’s lives. The initiative has evolved to become bigger than any individual, bigger even than the sum of its parts. Yet we still value the individual: each swimmer, each sponsor and every beneficiary.

With each swim, Madswimmer invests its time and money for charity. We put ourselves at risk. We conduct endless research and investigate meticulously. We sacrifice a lot for these swims, for charity. We’re normal everyday people out to prove what normal everyday people can do when they put their minds to helping others."

In transforming ourselves in the process, we like to think we’re transforming our country from the inside out.

These swims are dangerous. But the danger is a drawcard. The more dangerous the swim, the more we as individuals need to invest. In a life-threatening swim, we invest everything. If we don’t, how can we expect donors to invest in us?

For more information on their Ojos Swim, Madswimmers, visit here.

Copyright © 2015 by World Open Water Swimming Association

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