Lifeguards set the bar high in Four Elements Ocean Challenge

More than 130 daring participants signed up for the fourth annual Four Elements Ocean Challenge – the biggest entry yet – which set off from Durban Harbour on Saturday, 13 May. And proving their deep love of the Indian Ocean were representatives from eThekwini’s lifeguard unit.

“We really looked forward to the Four Elements Ocean Challenge which is always such a fun and well-run event,” said Thando Thusi, who has been involved with the eThekwini lifeguard unit, in various roles, for the past 18 years.

“It provided us with a really great opportunity to actually interact with the public we’re dedicated to protecting on our home turf. This is one of the only 5km ocean swim challenges in the Durban area and it was a really great event. We have such a fantastic coastline so it’s good for people to experience it during such a well-supervised event. Because it’s such a great cause, we’re willing to give of our time and it’s an overall fantastic initiative that makes people aware of our beaches and the need to look after them,” added Thusi.

ALSO READ: Season two of Durban Beach Rescue promises an action-packed experience

The lifeguard said there was often the misconception that lifeguards spent their time relaxing on the beach, when the reality is very different.

“Becoming a lifeguard is not an easy process and we train in the ocean daily to keep fitness levels up and check the safety conditions. Sanele Nxumalo, one of our lifeguards, has placed in the top three previously, showing that we’re not just competing for fun, we’re out there for podium places. It will be great to show what we have on the day,” he explained.

Describing the Four Elements Ocean Challenge as ‘one of the most important races of the year’, Sanele Nxumalo – who placed second in 2015 and third in 2016 – was eager to once again participate.

Nxumalo, who is three-time Lifeguard Endurance Champion, winner of 2016 Miway Surf Swim competition and Lifesaving Ironman as well as a silver medallist winner in the senior men’s surf swim category at the SA Stillwater Nationals, said lifeguards were always excited for any surf sport-related event.

To celebrate the eThekwini Lifeguards, Four Elements also introduced a new prize category this year with prizes awarded to the first three professional eThekwini lifeguards who complete the 5km swim.

“We really wanted to honour the unsung heroes who have made a professional career out of looking after visitors to Durban’s warm beaches,” said CEO of Four Elements, Olivia Taylor.

Taylor, who is currently a student at the University of Stellenbosch, established Four Elements Conservation NPC – a non-profit environmental preservation organisation – five years ago, at the age of 14. The Four Elements Ocean Challenge is one of the NPC projects that raises funds for, and awareness about, ocean conservation with a particular focus on World Oceans Day. Funds raised from this year’s swim will be going towards the launch of an online education programme focusing on environmental entrepreneurship for youth.

 

 

  AUTHOR
Rising Sun

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