This will be the third event of the “Rivers for Life” extreme swimming challenge that was launched by the Capetonian in 2015. The challenge involves a small group of athletes that is attempting to swim a distance of 100 to 350km in a major river in each of South Africa’s nine provinces.
Andrew plans to start his swim on the Orange River at the Vanderkloof Dam in the Northern Cape. He will proceed to Orania for the second leg of his swim, and continue on to Hopetown, Prieska, Groblershoop, Upington and Kakamas before concluding his swim near Onseepkans.
The first swim took place in the Wilge River in the Free State in January 2015, during which Andrew Chin and Toks Viviers swam 200km over a period of 10 days. In October 2015 high water pollution levels and exceptionally low flows forced him and fellow swimmer Henko Roukema to abandon their quest to swim the length of the Berg River. Their goal had been to swim the Berg from source to sea, but the polluted water caused such illness in the team that they were forced to call off the swim after completing 135km of the river’s 294km length.
This unfortunate outcome did, however, serve to reinforce the central message of the “Rivers for Life” campaign, which is that our country’s rivers are in a severe state of deterioration. Their efforts further stimulated critical discussion and action by the relevant authorities to further engage with landowners, affected communities and the general public to save our country’s vital water resources.
During the Orange River swim Andrew is expecting to experience a relatively clean river, although low water levels and some pollution around riverside towns is anticipated.
Andrew plans to connect with community members as well as learners at local schools along the way, where he will be conducting short talks on the importance of our rivers and the role that everyone needs to play in looking after them. WESSA is once again equipping Andrew with the skills required to conduct river health tests using the popular miniSASS citizen science tool, which is used to calculate a river health index based on the collection and identification of invertebrates in a water sample. Andrew will be collecting data from the Orange River using this tool and the results will be uploaded to the www.minisass.org Google Earth map and database, where they will contribute to building a picture of the health of South Africa’s rivers.
WESSA strongly supports this initiative, which is in line with the organisation’s aim to promote public awareness and participation in caring for the earth. One of WESSAs key objectives is to promote the health of strategic water catchments and rivers through the monitoring and reporting of the state of our country’s water resources.
The swim will be supported by a number of sponsors including Travel with Flair (Cape Town), Grapevine Interactive, Speedo South Africa and Aqua4Life. Backup will be provided by Gravity Adventures.
Photo links and captions:
Rivers for Life: Swimmers Andrew Chin in the Berg River in Franschhoek, near the start of their swim in October 2015. Photo credit: WESSA
Radio broadcasters please note:
Andrew Chin is available for interviews both prior to his departure and while on the river from 18 – 24 October. Cell phone access may be limited at times but he will respond to messages as soon as possible. Contact Andrew on 083 708 1390.