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Friday, November 10, 2017

The Great Shark Swim Reaches Its Limit

Courtesy of Nicolene Steynberg, Protea Banks, South Africa.

There are three weeks to the start of the Great Shark Swim, an attempt to swim 100 km in the open ocean under 12 hours.

Due to safety protocols, the tandem swim is limited to 20 experienced swimmers. "Swimmers are still asking to be added to the waiting list in the case spots open up including open water swimmers who beg to swim 100 km in one day within 11–14 hours among sharks in the fast Agulhas Current, off the coast of South Africa," reports Nicolene Steynberg of Madswimmer.

The swimmers will swim 100 km along the Protea Banks proposed Marine Protected Area on December 2nd.

"The 20 swimmers will try to swim 100 km in 1 day in one of the fastest seas in the world, South Africa's own Agulhas Current," explained Steynberg. "But there is zero shark protection [there] to show the world that sharks are our friends. We want to protect them and show that plastic pollution compromises marine life."

The 160-year old Royal Natal Yacht Club, the oldest in Africa, will set the swimmers off while the swimmers will be escorted by Angra Pequena Research Vessel supported by a team of medics, oceanographer, diving ducks, rescue divers, and kayakers.

Madswimmer founder Jean Craven has continued his creative way to complete a unique charity swim. "Every rand raised supports 10 registered children’s charities [Operation Smile South Africa, Bram Fischer Trust, The Children's Hospital Trust, Guild Cottage, Miles for Mercia, Aluwani, ORT SA Cape, SAVF, The Seal Swimming Trust, WACDT, Afrika Tikkun, Ikamva Labantu, and the NSRI WaterWise Academy - see here]. All swimmers carry their own costs. Every rand we raise supports children in need. Madswimmer has risen over R8,000,000 [US$560,692] for charity over the past nine years."

Besides the speed in the Agulhas Current, the swimmers will be in shark waters with no shark protection to create awareness of shark and ray species that are on the verge of extinction. The Great Shark Swim aims to create awareness of alarmingly decreasing numbers of sharks."

The Agulhas Current, one of the world's fastest and strongest flowing currents, is an extraordinary South African feature which influences local and regional weather and climate. The Great Shark Swim will take place within the current.

Oceanographer Lisa Guastella will lead the navigation of the 20 tandem swimmers with surface satellite-tracked drifters and moored current meter measurements in the Agulhas Current in order to determine the optimum route to swim.

Craven provides more details, "The swim is scheduled to take place on December 2nd from sunrise to sunset if the weather permits. If the 2nd is not optimal, the swimmers will depart on the first weather working day between December 3rd and 9th. Boats will launch from Park Rynie, KwaZulu-Natal, a coastal South African province. Depending on the strength of the current on the day, boats will motor swimmers out between 10 and 30 km southeast. The 100 km finish mark will be about 10 km South of Port Edward."

Dr. Jean Harris is the boat manager of the mother ship with medical support provided by Dr. Sean Gottschalk, an emergency medical specialist. Roland Mauz of African Dive Adventures will manage the four diving ducks to support the swimmers.

"We have a secondary aim to support research by the University of KwaZulu-Natal on microplastics in the ocean by determining if the Agulhas Current is acting as a transport mechanism for plastic particles (land-derived waste), which gets distributed throughout the ocean," says Craven. "During the swim we will take samples at selected points to be handed over to researchers to be analyzed."



For more information on Madswimmer, visit here.

Madswimmer was nominated for the 2017 World Open Water Swimming Performance of the Year as part of the WOWSA Awards.

The nominees include the following:

1. Barbados Open Water Swimming Festival with Kristina Evelyn & Zary Evelyn (Barbados)
2. Khitindra Chandra Baishya (Bangladesh)
3. Sven Eckardt (Germany)
4. India National Open Long Distance Swimming Championship Escort Rowers (India)
5. Margarita Llorens Bagur (Spain)
6. Igor Lukin (Russia)
7. Madswimmer by Jean Craven (South Africa)
8. Marc-Antoine Olivier (France)
9. Stephen Rouch (USA)
10. Jason Snell (UK)
11. Christof Wandratsch (Germany)
12. Wild Swimming Brothers (Great Britain)

In addition to the Great Shark Swim, Madswimmer was busy during 2017 with four unique swims:

* 7.9 km Pan-American Colibrí Crossing between California, USA and Tijuana, Mexico in May with 12 swimmers
* 94.7 km Balaeric Island Challenge, a four-day stage swim around the Spanish island of Ibiza in September with 10 swimmers
* 34 km Bazaruto Island Swim in Mozambique in October with 20 swimmers

"Craven has recruited charitable-minded swimmers from multiple countries to participate in different extreme pioneering swims and to benefit myriad causes while attempting unprecedented swims of unique nature and pushing the frontiers of physical and mental boundaries among their swimming contemporaries around the world."

To register and vote on the WOWSA Awards and the 2017 World Open Water Swimming Performance of the Year here.



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