Successful Four Elements Conservation NPC Ocean Challenge sees youngsters take top titles
The second edition of the Four Elements Conservation NPC Ocean Challenge was an overwhelming success with all 120 competitors managing to finish within the two-and-a-half hour time limit and a whopping R100 000 raised for environmental conservation.
The swimmers – ranging in age from 11 to 74 years – took to the ocean at 7am from Durban’s Vetch’s Reef, swimming to North Beach and back in fairly tough conditions. And although everyone swam extremely well, it was 17-year-old Sasha-Lee Corris-Nordengen who took the top title, and the winning prize valued at R6 300, in the 5km Ocean Challenge with a time of 1:06:08.
“It was a great swim!” said the Durban Girls’ College pupil, “The conditions there were flat although coming back was a bit choppier, but my surf lifesaving background helped and I really enjoyed it.”
Corris-Nordengen has represented South Africa from the age of 14 competing recently in the Junior World Open Water Champs in Hungary, the World Champs Lifesaving in France and the Region 5 All Africa Games in Zimbabwe. She has also been selected to represent South Africa in Australia later this year at the International Surf Rescue Challenge.
“I definitely prefer the open water swims, anything in a dam or an ocean. I was so happy to be able to compete because I was unavailable last year. I will definitely compete again next year,” she said.
First in the men’s division was one of the youngest competitors, 14-year-old Chad Michau from Clifton College with a time of 1:08:54.
Michau has overcome a fear of ocean swimming, competing in a few Dolphin Miles, however, this was his first 5km ocean swim making the win an even bigger achievement.
“The conditions were not too bad, a bit choppy, but I enjoyed it,” he said.
“This is my second year swimming competitively and I didn’t expect to do so well.”
Organised by Durban’s Olivia Taylor, 18, the founder of Four Elements Conservation, the Ocean Challenge aims to create awareness about ocean degradation while raising funds for conservation. The Ocean Challenge falls under the banner of Four Elements Conservation NPC, an internationally-recognised environmental organisation which Taylor founded at age 15.
Commenting on the race, Taylor said: “Last year we had 16 competitors and it was a huge success but this year surpassed all my expectations,” said the young environmentalist.
“Every swimmer finished despite the conditions being quite tough. The second leg of the race was difficult because of the currents and wind but the last swimmer came in six minutes before cut-off.”
Taylor said the feedback from participants after the race was overwhelmingly positive.
“The atmosphere was fantastic and they all expressed how happy they were that there was a long-distance ocean swim in Durban. The water was warm and visibility was great. They were humbled by the experience and I feel we achieved our goal.”
She also thanked the sponsors who included Woolworths, FMI, Suncoast Casino, Nandos, Island Style the Letschert, Hancock and Bantock families.
A simultaneous beach clean-up, headed by Julia van der Westhuyzen of the Durban Girls’ College Environmental Club, was also a success with a number of youngsters picking up litter between Durban Surf Lifesaving Club and uShaka Beach.
Funds raised at the epic swim will also go towards the Four Elements Evironmental Scholarship Camp which will be awarded to at least six environmentally passionate youngsters between the ages of 10 and 18.
Taylor will be selecting the candidates based on a written application, followed by an interview, and the successful adolescents will attend an informative four-day camp at on the Zululand coast in December, headed by Taylor.
“The camp will involve a series of workshops covering essential business skills, sustainable fundraising and using your youth to your advantage. There will also be engaging environmental activities such as shark dives and walking with rhinos,” Taylor explained.
Four Elements Conservation NPC Ocean Challenge 2015 Results:
1st place: Sasha-Lee Corris-Nordengen, 17 – 1:06:08
2nd place: Chad Michau, 14 – 1:08:54
3rd place: Sanele Nxumalo, 20 – 1:09:55
Winner of the Men’s 30–50: Julian Taylor (2014 Open winner) -1:10:16
Winner of the Women’s 30-50: Jill Hanass-Hancock – 1:15:23
Winner of the Men’s over 50: Michiel Kemper – 1:14:03
Winner of the Women’s over 50: Heather Campbell – 1:22:32
Team winners: Anne-Marie Vincent, Alexandra Torborg and Ruthmaree Smith.