Modern Athlete Magazine Issue 143, July 2021 July 2020 - Page 50

Carina was seconded and filmed the whole way across Walker Bay
but for me biggest challenge has always been cold , as I am not bulky . I am therefore at my best when the water is over 20 degrees , but I can take the pain and suffering that comes with colder water . However , having been dangerously hypothermic in my life , I know there is a point where it gets dangerous and my body revolts ,” says Carina .
“ I ’ m also a purist , and always swim without a wetsuit if I can , especially if I do a ‘ first ,’ but the water was only 17.5 degrees when I started in Hermanus . It fluctuated between that and 19 degrees , and I fortunately didn ’ t really feel it while I was in the water , but when I came out I was shivering uncontrollably . Still it was better than the 15 degrees they said I would be lucky to get , because three days before my swim the water in the bay it had been only 12 degrees !”
“ The current in Walker Bay was actually more of a problem than the temperature , as it was pushing me out into the bay , so I had to push in the opposite direction to steer straight , which slowed me down to 18 minutes per kilometre . I was feeling good , moving well , but it was frustrating due to the current , and at one stage I looked at my watch and thought I should be finished already . In the end it took me six hours 36 minutes , but I feel I should have done it in 5:30ish . With hindsight , I should maybe have swum the other way , from Gansbaai to Hermanus , but I was always fine , because in my mind I knew I was doing this for a great cause . In fact , I actually felt it was symbolic … because we ’ ve all been swimming against a current this past year .”
Dealing With the Fear
Fortunately , Carina ’ s other fear did not materialise , in spite of Walker Bay being well known for its shark population and Gansbaai being a world-renowned tourist destination for shark cage diving . “ I am always nervous about my swims , especially when it ’ s in an area known to have a lot of sharks , but I have swum in shark-infested waters enough now to live with the fear . I tell myself I have chosen to do this and to be here , so I shut my mind to sharks . Still , it ’ s a primal instinct when you swim into something , like kelp , to think this is it .”
“ I also knew I had a fantastic crew supporting me , including two shark spotters on the boat , which was towing a Shark Shield electronic buoy , and I was wearing a Sharkbanz around my ankle . We did see some wildlife during the swim , including penguins , seals and a Brides whale , but thankfully no Great Whites . At one time , when Herman was
in the water with me , there were suddenly bubbles right underneath me , and he almost swam over me to get to the boat , but it turned out to be a seal . The guys on the boat told me later they saw some sharks breaching , but they stayed well away from us .”
Carina admits that she enjoys both the endorphin and adrenalin rush of marathon swimming , and while she acknowledges that there are some risks involved , she feels it no different to getting into a car or a plane . “ I ’ ve been fairly lucky in my swimming career , with no problems with sharks . On one swim the spotters saw a Great White , but luckily it was going in the opposite direction , and in the Nelson Mandela Bay swim they spotted two Hammerheads , but also going in the opposite direction .”
What has actually been worse in various swims was being stung by jellyfish and bluebottles , she says . “ Some years ago I swam around Dangerpoint , and for a stretch of about 5km I hit a spread of bluebottles . I simply couldn ’ t avoid them . They were in my mouth , around my neck , everywhere , and I had to ‘ package ’ the pain in my mind . I knew I was not allergic , so I just pushed through the pain . Another bad experience was when I swam the Straights of Messina and was stung multiple times by potent jellyfish . I even began bleeding from some of the stings , and the scars stayed for two years ! End of the day , if it is just pain , I am OK with it , but if something is life-threatening due to pain or allergy , I would consider stopping .”
Most Memorable Swim
Carina ’ s swim was broadcast via a livestream link , and she asked various artists to send her video contributions that could be added to the show , including well known artists such as lead singer Zolani Mahola from Freshly Ground and Victor Khojane of Dr Victor and the Rasta Rebels . “ I asked them to describe how COVID has affected them , their outlook and reality , and we cut away from the swim regularly for these inserts , trying to show viewers why I was doing the swim . I also hoped it would lead to more people thinking of booking a musician in the near

“ I think we underestimate how much life has changed during this pandemic , and how badly the people around us have been affected . Hopefully this at least helps some of them .”

Images : Dave de Beer & courtesy Adventure Swim ZA , Sterling EQ
50 ISSUE 143 JULY 2021 / www . modernathlete . co . za