Eight wet miles for rhinos

2014-02-08 00:00

EIGHT wet, splashy miles — or 12,8 km — is a long way to swim, unless you’re an “adventurer-by-trade” who recently became the first person to swim the length of Britain.

“I’m not concerned at all,” said Sean Conway yesterday about his big swim this weekend. The Hilton College oldboy, now based in the UK, will be one of 120 members of the Eight Mile Club lining up for all eight races on the aQuelle Midmar Mile programme this weekend. The Eight Milers are doing four swims today and four tomorrow to raise money for various charities.

Conway, who describes adventure and exploration as his job, said he hasn’t been in a pool for three months, because he’s still recovering from his 1 440-km, 135-day odyssey, which ended on November 11 last year. “But I did swim for five months before that, and I’m not looking to win,” he said. “I just want to inspire people and promote the idea that a lot of people can do more than they think they can. I’m most worried about getting sunburnt.”

The origin of the Eight Mile Club lies in Stan Kozlowski’s decision in 2001 to swim all the races on the programme to raise funds for the Wildlands Conservation Trust. In 2004, the club was consequently formalised by Mervyn Bremner and Kozlowski and was incorporated into the aQuelle Midmar Mile a few years ago.

Race director Wayne Riddin said the Eight Milers, whose numbers have been increased from 50 to 120, have to apply to be part of the club and each chooses a charity from a list of six. “There’ll be approximately 20 people per charity and the aim is to raise $2 million [R22 million],” he said. Beneficiaries will include Save the Rhino, the Pink Drive, the Red Cap Foundation, The Princess Charlene Foundation, and Choc. A group of swimmers with disabilities will be raising funds directly for the groups they wish to support.

Together with international marathon swimmers Keri-Anne Payne (UK) and Lexie Kelly (U.S.), Conway will be swimming for the Save the Rhino fund. It’s a cause close to his heart — his father Tony Conway works for KZN Wildlife, specialising in rhino conservation.

Meanwhile, Conway intends to swim with a Go-Pro camera to capture a unique fish-eye view of the event. “I’ll use it on my blog … I’ll be swimming underneath and taking all kinds of shots,” he said.

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