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Would you swim 200km in a polluted river to highlight the problem?

If you’re going to do a nice long swim you might as well find a good cause to do it for. That at least seems to be part of the motivation behind Andrew Chin and Toks Viviers’ planned 200km descent of the Wilge River in Free State, South Africa, through which they aim to highlight the plight of South Africa’s deteriorating waterways.

Chin and Viviers already have a reputation as extreme swimmers following aquatic exploits at the South Pole and in Patagonia. These swims have usually entailed either rough conditions, near freezing water or both. This time the challenge will be the distance and water quality.
The swim is organised by Rivers for Life, a charity which raises awareness of South Africa’s water crisis and urges action. Chin is planning an extreme swim in a major river in each province as part of the initiative.
“We’re using more water than is available and fast running out,” says Chin. “Our waste water treatment is in a critical state, over a third of our drinkable water is wasted through leaking pipes and taps and many of our rivers are polluted from sewage and toxic run-off. We hope our swims will ignite action to address these issues.”
As per all their swims, Chin and Viviers will stick to traditional rules and wear only Speedos, a swim cap and goggles. They will start the swim at Harrismith on 6 January and hope to complete the 200km descent in around 10 stages (camping overnight on the river bank) and finish in Frankfort.
The swim’s main sponsor, Aqua for Life – which develops safe drinking water solutions including the award winning LifeStraw® personal water filter system – has donated 10 filtered water systems to disadvantaged schools and clinics along the swim route. The company’s MD Nico Germishuizen says the systems would each provide safe drinking water for up to 200 children for three to four years.
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I created Outdoor Swimmer in 2011 (initially as H2Open Magazine) as an outlet for my passion for swimming outdoors. I've been a swimmer and outdoor swimmer for as long as I remember. Swimming has made a huge difference to my life and I want to share its joys and benefits with as many people as possible. I am also the author of Swim Wild & Free: A Practical Guide to Swimming Outdoors 365 a Year and I provide one-to-one support to swimmers through Swim Mentoring.