Local teen to swim from Robben Island to mainland to raise funds

2014-04-29 00:00

SASHA-LEE Nordengen, a Durban Girls’ College pupil, will battle it out in the 7,5 km Robben Island Freedom Day race later this week.

The 17-year-old Grade 11 pupil will be competing with 17 other swimmers from various parts of the country swimming to Blouberg Strand on May 3.

But for Sasha-Lee, this is all for the benefit of needy children. She said she is participating in the race to raise funds to support a child from LIV Village for at least one month.

LIV is an NGO that provides holistic residential care for orphaned and vulnerable children. The village is based in Verulam and has 160 children aged from birth to 15 years old under its care.

“I want to help vulnerable children. I’m passionate about the mission. I told my parents about my desire to help needy children and they suggested LIV Village. I decided to take on this race to raise enough money to support at least one child for a month. I know it sounds too little, but my aim is to provide more support for the children in the near future,” said Sasha-Lee.

She hopes that more young people, especially pupils, will come up with initiatives to support these children in their own small way.

Speaking about the upcoming Robben Island event, Sasha-Lee confessed to being a bit nervous, but the objective for participating in the race keeps her focused.

“My mind is strong so I know I can do it. Although I’m not worried about sharks, the thought of being in their territory scares me a little bit,” she said.

At the age of 18 months, Sasha-Lee was already familiar with swimming pools.

“My mother wanted me to be water safe so she decided to take me whenever she went to the gym. I’ve done 10 km in the Midmar SA National Open Water Championship two times. I’ve taken part in a lot of other events so I don’t foresee any difficulty in completing the Robben Island challenge,” she said.

“I hear that the water is cold and there will be no wetsuits but swimming costumes. I think I’m ready for the challenge,” she said.

LIV spokesperson Joan Smith said children don’t have to wait until they are adults and employed for them to make a difference. “If other children can do what Sasha is doing, then we can raise role models and responsible citizens,” said Smith.

Peter Bale, chairperson of the Cape Long Distance Swimming Association, said there were no major challenges in the race except the cold water. “The water depends on the temperature on the day. But I can assure you that the water is extremely cold. Be that as it may, we only recognise people swimming without wetsuits,” said Bale.

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