Swimming to save the ocean

2019-02-05 06:20
Bernie Manzoni and Laura Paarman.

Bernie Manzoni and Laura Paarman.

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Two Hout Bay swimmers helped fight the battle against ocean pollution by tackling a 3km swim at Hout Bay Harbour on Sunday 27 January.

In a quest to raise awareness about ocean pollution, especially plastic pollution, swimmers Laura Paarman and Bernie Manzoni started the swim just after 08:00 and were cheered on by Hout Bay residents. The theme for their swim was “Fighting, commitment, understanding and kindness”.

They say the swim was not too hectic as they had been swimming since childhood. They say the only challenge was the state of the water in the morning with potential dangerous waves at the Leopard side resulting in the challenge having to start from Mariner’s.

“I have been swimming since I was a small child and I swim on a regular basis, so doing a 3km swim is quite easy. I have often encountered pollution in the water which has certainly affected my ability to enjoy swimming,” says Paarman.

The two say they saw the need to save marine life through different channels.

They started being involved by helping with the ordinary harbour cleanup and saw how huge the need was and so decided to go the extra mile. “I have always felt very connected to the ocean. We clean the harbour often, assisted by youths from Hangberg. I wear a shirt covered in non-recyclable items such as chip packets, sweet and chocolate wrappers, etc. This draws a lot of attention, and I am constantly asked questions, particularly by foreigners. This is an ideal opportunity to talk about the consequences of polluting the ocean and what the long-term dangers are. Nothing happens without effort, and we feel that the more awareness we create, the more people start to understand the need to protect and respect the environment,” she says.

Paarman says a bit of effort from everybody to clean up the environment and avoid polluting would go a long way towards saving the ocean.

Manzoni says plastic poses a great risk to marine life, and it is only if everyone understands the implications that they will know why they need to protect the environment. He says the aim of taking on the challenge was to show the seriousness of the matter and engage people in a fun way.

The initiative was organised by James Wrey, the founder of Hout Bay Harbour Cleanup. He says that what Paarman and Manzoni are doing for the community is “quite amazing”. He says making a difference starts with an individual and he is thankful to all the volunteers who spare time to cleanup and spread the word.

“We are busy organising another swim by one of our volunteers. The purpose is growing and exciting for us. Every little bit of help counts and can save a life.”V To find out more about the cleanup, visit: Hout Bay Harbour Clean Up on Facebook.

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