Saving the rhino one mile at a time

This weekend saw me swimming my 18th Midmar mile since 2014, but it was only my second time swimming all 8 miles in a weekend as part of the 8 mile club. You would think that by now, I would have had enough of the kicking, punching and scratching that comes with every start and staring at the same murky water again and again, but I haven’t and here is why…

Being part of the 8 mile club for Midmar is such a great privilege, not only because there are a limited number of swimmers who are able to take part in it, or the special shiny medal at the end, but because of the like-minded swimming community that you get to meet and share your experience with. There are swimmers in the 8 mile club from all walks of life, from Craig Dietz who is a limbless American triathlon swimmer to guys that could give some of the Elites a run for their prize money, but in all honesty, it doesn’t matter how fast or slow you are (okay, maybe a little), in the end we all have tenacity and big hearts to get through it and we keep coming back for more.

Coupled with a new family, you get to do something to give back. Part of the involvement is that you get to pick a charity to swim for and need to raise at least R10 000 that will be donated to them. Over the last two years, I have chosen to swim for Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife who focuses predominately on rhino conservation, which is very close to my heart. Isabella was a rhino that my in-laws looked after and she was poached over two years ago, which is why I believe that someone needs to speak out and if I can do that whilst doing something that I love, then that is all the more reason to stare into the murky water and get really bad tan marks.

There isn’t much to tell when it comes to the racing because let’s be honest, it is quite hard (at least for us amateurs) to swim like Chad Ho, or should I say Matthew Meyer since Ho was beaten for the first time in several years.  But when a crazy swimming family of gold coloured caps get together at the end of the last mile before the finish line to wait for everyone to walk together through the finish shoot as one, you get goose bumps.
At the end, I had to laugh because I met someone who had completed the full Ironman last year and when I asked him which he thought was harder, he laughed and told me to ask later once he had caught his breath. Even though he wasn’t sure, I am sure he will be back and for me…well I have another three 8 mile crossings to do to get my permanent number and whilst we are at it let’s throw in another 8 mile crossing to round it up to 50 in total.


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