Record-breaking long-distance swimmer Sarah Ferguson, who has swum some of the country’s fiercest ocean passages, has set her sights on the Ka’iwi channel between the Hawaiian islands as her next challenge, all while drawing attention to the detrimental impact of ocean pollution.
The former competitive pool swimmer turned endurance open ocean swimmer is hoping to become the first African woman to conquer the mighty 42km Ka’iwi passage, known as the Valley of Bones, at the end of July 2017. Ferguson is already a seasoned endurance swimmer, having swum all the major South African open ocean challenges, including the Robben Island swim and the popular Umhlanga to Durban race.
In Hawaii, Ferguson will not only face the Valley’s ferocious waves and unpredictable currents, but will also have to be wary of the area’s unique but dangerous ocean wildlife, including various species of sharks, jellies and the illusive but deadly Portuguese Man-of-War bluebottle.
Ferguson writes on her official blog the swim is not to be taken lightly, and she has done as much preparation as possible to complete it, including open swims around the Western Cape and the KwaZulu-Natal coast.
To counter the extreme heat of the northern summer, Ferguson will swim most of the channel at night, with an able back-up team alongside her all the way.
In her introduction on her fundraising page on the GoFundMe website, Ferguson writes: “The main objective of this swim and all my preparatory swims is to create awareness of the dire need for ocean conservation as well as to educate rural communities on the importance of conservation and development.”
Partnering with various South African and North American conservation groups, including her own Breath Ocean Conservation team, the I Am Water Trust and Hawaiian community group Deep & Beyond, her trip will not only include the epic swim, but also a series of educational workshops with communities, especially young people, encouraging them to make the necessary changes in humans’ relationship with the ocean in order to protect the planet as a whole.
Meanwhile, as she mentally prepares for the challenge of her life, all for a worthy, global cause, Ferguson and Breath Ocean Conservation are accepting donations and sponsorships on her official website and through the GoFundMe page.
Would you like to use this article in your publication or on your website? See Using Brand South Africa material.