The Seeds of Adventure: My Robben Island Swim for The Beach Co-Op
I think my adventurous spirit was a big part of my childhood, spent in the great outdoors. My parents made sure that I spent a lot of my weekends hiking on Table Mountain and holidays exploring in the Cederberg. But my love of the ocean was my own innate passion... I could never get enough of it and living at the seaside for most of my life hasn't lessened my love for the ocean and all things environmental.
When I took a pause to have children, I thought it would be for a couple of months, a year at the most. Well, eight kids and twenty years later I was still sitting on the couch reading stories. Of course, we went on lots of mini-adventures together: loads of hiking and picnics on the mountain behind our home, and daily walks along the shoreline. Naturally my kids became eco-warriors as we wandered along, always taking-three-for-the-sea or taking-three-for-the-trail. We began working with an organisation called the Beach Co-op (https://www.thebeachcoop.org) and we have been cleaning the beach at Surfer's Corner with them, every single New Moon, when the tide is lowest, for the past several years.
However, all our adventuring was always at the pace of a toddler... not a bad thing per se, you certainly do notice a lot of things around you at that pace. But my health was in a shocking state, and I had the mind of an adventurer, stuck in the body of a mom who had done no actual exercise for twenty years. And so I began a fitness journey. A journey that took me from ground zero to running half marathons, but I still wasn't a comfortable athlete, not until I rediscovered swimming. When a friend invited me for a swim in the wild I thought it was crazy, just enough crazy to make me think it was magic. My first swim was literally 200m in the freezing cold mountain dam in winter, and I absolutely loved it... I was hooked. From there I started swimming a lot more from ocean swimming to rivers and dams. If there is a body of water, then I have to stop and take a swim, I will not miss the opportunity.
I never ever imagined that I would end up swimming a Robben Island Crossing, talk about beyond my wildest dreams. However, it turns out with the right training and the a fantastic team, amazing things can happen, my swims were slowly getting further and further. I began entering longer and longer races and towards the end of last year swam the length of Langebaan Lagoon and I knew I was ready to take on the Robben Island Crossing.
I decided to dedicate my swim to the Beach Co-op, and raise funds for the organisation that we have spent so much time cleaning beaches with as a family. And I began to focus my training: loads of cold open ocean swims and increasing my distance weekly. Honestly, I got more and more excited as the day drew nearer... Finally, on a beautiful morning in December we set out for Robben Island in rubber ducks, even that was so exciting. When we got to the island we swam into the shore, stood up and we were ready to go. Then began a long swim back to the shore, the mist drew in like a cocoon and I was just thrilled to be swimming out in the open ocean heading for shore, with a support crew beside me. I loved every single second of it, and just as I started to think I had been out there long enough, the mist cleared and I saw the shore that I was aiming for.
Right now my family and I have moved on to our next challenge, since beaches were closed over the summer, we began working on the 13 Peaks Challenge, it is a trail running challenge, that we have chosen to hike our way along... 13 Peaks within the Table Mountain range, it has been fantastic and hopefully I am sowing the seeds of adventure into the hearts of my kids.
That being said, as I came out of the water from my Robben Island Crossing, my first thought was: I have to do that again. Really, I can think of nothing better than going for an explorative swimming adventure in the ocean. Open water swimming has become my favourite type of adventure.