Extreme swimmers take on polluted rivers to highlight water crisis

2014-12-17 12:05

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Bloemfontein - Two extreme athletes are set to swim 200km down the polluted Wilge River in the Free State to highlight the plight of South Africa's deteriorating waterways.

Globally renowned extreme swimmers, Andrew Chin, aged 45, and Toks Viviers, aged 52, will take to the Wilge River at Harrismith on 6 January in Speedo costumes caps and goggles only, and will attempt to swim over about 10 days to Frankfort, 200km downstream.

They will be accompanied by a small support crew and will camp overnight on the river bank.

The swim is organised by Rivers for Life which raises awareness of SA's water crisis and urges action. Chin is planning an extreme swim in a major river in each province as part of the initiative.

"We're using more water than is available and fast running out," said Chin, adding, "our waste water treatment is in a critical state; over a third of our drinkable water is wasted through leaking pipes and taps and; many of our rivers are polluted from sewage and toxic run-off. We hope our swims will ignite action to address these issues," he said.

The swim's main sponsor, Aqua for Life, which develops safe drinking water solutions including the globally hailed and multi-award winning LifeStraw personal water filter system -- has donated 10 filtered water systems to disadvantaged schools and clinics along the swim route. The company's MD said the systems would each provide safe drinking water for up to 200 children for three to four years.

In addition to pollution, Chin and Viviers face fatigue, the elements --including the risk of sun-stroke, and taking on the "unknown" as no-one has swum a significant distance in the Wilge River.
Read more on:    bloemfontein  |  pollution  |  water

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