THE inaugural Four Elements Ocean Challenge will take place on Saturday, 3 May.
A small field of athletes will swim 7km along Durban’s iconic beachfront between Blue Lagoon and the northern harbour wall. The event is being held by the non-profit company Four Elements Conservation in honour of World Oceans Day (8 June), and is aimed at raising awareness and funds for the preservation of the ocean environment.
The gruelling ocean swim, where all participants have been hand-selected to include Olympic, English Channel, and other world-ranked distance swimmers, is to be the focal point of a five minute film that will be released as part of the official celebrations of the UN-designated World Oceans Day.
Four Elements Conservation NPC is the brainchild of Durban Girls’ College pupil Olivia Taylor (17), whose passion for the natural environment moved her to form the organisation in 2012.
“Our objective is to support, communicate and promote environmental activities, including the protection and preservation of endangered, threatened or suffering creatures. Humanity is threatened by mass indifference, and we want to have a positive effect on our environment by mobilising people and inspiring them to uphold our principle of ‘Dive Deeper, Aim Higher, Fly Further,” said Olivia.
Otto Thaning, a South African distance swimmer who has swum the English Channel and Strait of Gibraltar, said: “Four Elements NPC and the Ocean Challenge is a remarkable conservation concept. A concept that is often promoted at school and university graduation ceremonies extols and encourages efforts to leave a better world for our children. I have always thought that what we should be aiming for is leaving better children to look after our world, and Four Elements is the epitome of such a philosophy.”
Carina Bruwer-Pugliese who, among her many achievements, has swum the English Channel and Strait of Gibraltar, and also holds the records for the fastest crossing of Cape Point by a woman as well as the fastest circumnavigation of Robben Island, is honoured to take part in the challenge.
Another pedigreed participant is Roger Finch, the 66th person in the world and the only South African to achieve the Triple Crown of Open Water Swimming.
Speaking about the organisation, Olivia said: “The name ‘Four Elements’ is inspired by Aristotle’s original theory of the elements: water, earth, air and fire. For each element, a symbolic animal has been chosen, with the dire plight of sharks, rhinos and bearded vultures represented by water, earth and air. Arguably the most important of the elements is ‘fire’, which calls on those of us with a burning passion to stand up for what you believe in and let your voice be heard. As such, we endeavour to provide a platform and advice for other like-minded people (especially young people), so that they too can have the courage to light their own fires.”