I DON'T normally respond to criticism around the nature of my swimming. However, I feel the need to respond to the article, "Bay swimmer's Swartkops feat" (October 10).
The Swartkops River has never been swam from source to mouth until now. I started from the source and ended at the mouth.
The river has been classed as highly polluted. This is a well- known fact to all. I was well aware of this and other risks associated with the swim.
I am a professional marathon swimmer as well as an extreme adventure swimmer. I was extremely clear from the beginning why I wanted to swim the length of the Swartkops River.
I want to swim every river that is 10km or longer in the Eastern Cape. This is a personal goal I have set out to achieve.
I did not ask anyone to join me nor did I make any comment that the water was safe to swim in!
I have swam more rivers than anyone in South Africa! As a professional, I look at all the risks associated with a swim, weigh them up and take the necessary precautions.
I consulted with my sports doctor before the swim and we did what was needed.
Are you going to call someone trying to climb Mount Everest irresponsible? Does the person climbing Everest set a bad example for other people? I think not.
On that note let's take a look at some pioneers:
- Captain Matthew Webb was the first person successfully to swim the English Channel in 1848;
- Neil Armstrong was the first person to walk on the moon in 1969;
- David Walliams swam the length of the River Thames;
- Martin Strel was the first person to swim the length of the Amazon River, Mississippi River and Yangtze River (which is the most polluted river in the world);
- Riaan Manser successfully paddled around Madagascar;
- Lewis Pugh has swum in sub-degree water around the world.
I am not your normal run of the mill swimmer, and see myself as a pioneer of marathon river and ocean swimming in South Africa.
Did I get sick from the river? No, I did not.
I trained in the River Thames during my English Channel attempt, and that river is worse than the Swartkops River, yet no one called me a hooligan for doing so. This swim has actually enhanced awareness about the pollution in the river and why are we not focusing energies on action plans to rectify it instead of calling me a hooligan?
My main campaign is around rhino poaching, building awareness and raising funds to help save the rhino. Most people in the Eastern Cape are aware of this.
Kyle Main, Port Elizabeth