FOUR top open-water swimmers are set to take to the Kromme River and Gamtoos River this week in a bid to heighten awareness around the state of the country’s rivers and the urgent need to restore them.The Swim for Rivers challenge, presented in association with WESSA, involves a small group of athletes that is attempting to swim major rivers in each of South Africa’s nine provinces. The 2017 swim - set to take place in the Eastern Cape from October 14 to 21 - will be the fourth event of the extreme swimming challenge that was launched by Cape Town-based swimmer Andrew Chin in 2015. During the Eastern Cape Swim, Chin will be joined by East London open-water swimmers Mandy Uys, Joy Roach and Sean Murray. Over a period of a week, these athletes will swim 10km a day, in seven of the estuaries in the Eastern Cape: Kromme, Gamtoos, Sundays, Bushmans/Kowie, Keiskamma and Gonubie/Kei. The swimmers will set off from the mouth of the Kromme Rivier in St Francis Bay at 08:30 on Saturday, October 14, and will complete their final 2017 swim at the mouth of the Nahoon River in East London on Saturday, October 21. The athletes expect to be faced by several challenges along the way, such as sewerage overflows and general pollution of river water by, among other, fertilizers and general run off which is also a big contributor to the deteriorating state of these rivers.Along the way, the swimmers will meet with communities and local schools - some of which are participating in the WESSA’s Eco-Schools programme - to engage with them about the importance of rivers, how they function, and the role that everyone needs to play in looking after these precious natural resources. They will demonstrate the use of miniSASS as a citizen science river health monitoring tool, and demonstrate the key elements of the NSRI’s Waterwise water safety programme. They will furthermore, present each school with WESSA’s river-themed educational resources and Aqua4Life water purification devices. This year’s swim is also supported by Hippo Rollers whose rolling water barrel products will be demonstrated along the way. Members of the public are encouraged to show their support for this initiative by joining the swimmers at the start or finish venue.