Carina Bruwer, of Tamboerskloof, has become the first woman to cross Nelson Mandela Bay, in Port Elizabeth, in a gruelling solo charity swim.
The marathon swimmer, musician and mother-of-three did the swim in support of Muzukidz, which helps underprivileged children learn the violin. She completed the gruelling crossing from Pollock Beach in Summerstrand to Bluewater Bay on the Coega side of the bay in a time of 05:08; the distance swum was approximately 19km.
A group of children from the local Muzukidz project saw her off with some music and support at Pollock Beach, where she embarked on her challenge at 7.50am.
“The kids just gave me so much joy, and I entered the water with a sense of purpose. It was not an easy swim – the temperature was a few degrees colder than I would have liked for a long swim like this, with the cool outside temperature and overcast conditions contributing to a consistent drop in body temperature”, said Ms Bruwer.
But she said the children’s enthusiasm had helped her stay positive.
The water was choppy for most of the swim, and there were periods of light rain. Dolphins and whales were seen swimming within 200m of Ms Bruwer, and a hammerhead shark was also spotted during the first half of the swim, but it posed no threat to the swimmer.
Over the past 20 years, three male swimmers have crossed the bay. PE swimmer / adventurer Kyle Main did the 20km crossing from Hobie Beach to Coega twice (first in 2000), while Chris Malan completed a 15km crossing across the bay in 2003 at the age of 15, a route which internationally renowned Lewis Pugh also followed in 2006.
A support team followed Ms Bruwer in two boats. Each had its own shark spotter and was equipped with multiple shark shields.
Ms Bruwer is an International Marathon Swimming’s Hall of Fame nominee who was also ranked as one of the World Open Water Swimming Association’s top 50 most “daring, courageous and audacious” open water swimmers in the world in 2015 and 2018.
“No swim is simple. This was extra intricate due to the complexity of passing shipping lanes, harbours, and the high shark population,” she said, adding that she could not have done the swim without her support team.
“And the support of the people of PE has been simply heart-warming. It truly is the Friendly City and I would love to swim here again soon!”
The fund-raiser had exceeded the R25 000 mark and was “going strong”, she said.
“Each additional R1 000 buys another violin, which literally changes at least one life.”
Ms Bruwer performs with the instrumental group Sterling EQ, She founded Swim For Hope in 2014 as a fund-raising platform through which open water swimmers can dedicate a solo or group swim to a worthy South African cause.
Since its inception, Swim For Hope has raised more than R600 000 for different charities. The project’s current beneficiary is Muzukidz, which, after five years working exclusively in Cape Town, has now also opened a branch in Port Elizabeth. Children are taught at no cost to the families and Muzukidz relies solely on external funding to cover costs for teachers, instruments and teaching material.
“I believe that giving a child the opportunity to learn a musical instrument goes way beyond the ability to make music or the possibility of being a musician one day. Music stimulates the brain in a very special way; in fact, studies have shown that children who do 14 months of musical training displayed more powerful structural and functional brain changes.
“Imagine what this can do for a young child who comes from a poor background and who has limited opportunities and
a limited support structure. I am convinced that organisations like Muzukidz are helping to mould our future leaders, inventors
and change makers,” Ms Bruwer said.
Visit https://www.givengain.com/ap/carina-bruwer-raising-funds-for-muzukidz-24503/ to make a donation.