Carina takes on European waters

Carina Bruwer completed a groundbreaking open-water swim spanning three European countries.

Tamboerskloofresident Carina Bruwer has completed a groundbreaking open-water swim in Europe, crossing from France to Monaco and then to Italy.

She did it to support Muzukidz, an organisation that teaches music to children in poor communities.

Ms Bruwer took on the challenge under the banner of “Swim for Hope,” a fund-raising platform through which open-water swimmers can dedicate solo or group swims, or individual race participation, to a worthy South African cause.

An eminent musician herself, Ms Bruwer, said learning to play a musicial instrument could be of great benefit to a child.

“Not only does it give them a very special skill, but it also has huge advantages when it comes to gross motor skills, and it literally enhances the way the brain functions and is structured,” she said.

Ms Bruwer said when she first read about the work done by Muzukidz, she had had tears in her eyes.

She said she chose the organisation because of what it does to families and had seen the hope in the eyes of the parents and the grandparents of the children at Muzukidz.

That, she said, had inspired her to keep going further, and pushing harder.

“Most of these children come from extremely poor backgrounds where just putting food on the table can be a challenge; you can imagine how much hope is created for the whole family, by this child who now has a special skill,” she said.

Ms Bruwer said that in her twenties, she had done a lot of marathon swimming which had taken her across the world on amazing adventures and had become a very important part of her life.

Her priorities changed when she started a family and there wasn’t time and space for extreme swims that required so much of her time and energy.

But she kept up her fitness in the pool, and when her second child was 2, she felt a strong urge to return to the sport, although it was difficult to justify the time away from home.

“I had a strong desire to do something meaningful outside my own family context, in a country where there is so much need. So I made a deal with myself, that I would take the time to do big and extreme swims again, but only if it was going to make a difference, big or small, to someone in need. And so the Swim For Hope initiative was born,” she said.

Ms Bruwer completed a dramatic rounding of Cape Point, raising funds for the Little Fighter Cancer Trust, which was the only Swim For Hope beneficiary at the time.

She has also made a memorable mark on the open water and marathon swimming record books through many daring and record-breaking swimming feats since 2003.

These include the 36km English Channel crossing; swimming from Europe to Africa across the Strait of Gibraltar; swimming 35km to cross the “white shark capital of the world”, False Bay; and dozens more local and international extreme swims, where she set many firsts and broke numerous records through the years.

In 2015, she was ranked as one of the World Open Water Swimming Association’s top 50 most “daring, courageous and audacious” open- water swimmers in the world, and she has also been nominated for the International Marathon Swimming’s Hall of Fame.