Sarah Ferguson , whose parents live in Fish Hoek, swam the Midmar 8 Mile recently, raising R10 950 for ‘The Pink Drive’ . Her team together raised over R300 000.

Sarah, a physiotherapist,  writes about her experience of a race which was “tougher than I expected it to be…I realised I can’t get away with only training in the sea! Fresh water is VERY different from sea swimming and a lot harder.”

“I chose to do the Midmar 8 Mile as a personal challenge. After over a decade of competitive swimming, I took a 2 year break and headed to India to work with some physios and set up a swimming academy there. I still love swimming and realized I was not ready to completely stop the sport that grew to be a part of me. After packing up my goggles at the end of 2009, I felt ready for a new challenge and wanted to do something more meaningful with my sport. I was inspired by Lewis Pugh and his amazing swims all over the world to raise awareness for climate change. I spent some time traveling at the end of 2011 and got to swim all over the world in the beautiful ocean. It was in Hawaii that my love for the sea was awakened and I did my first double mile open water swim for fun and that got me hooked.

I returned to SA ready for a new challenge and decided to start off with the Midmar 8 mile. It is something I have considered for a while and like the idea of swimming for a cause.

With this year being the 40th anniversary of Midmar, the organizers wanted to do something special and so selected a few swimmers to be part of the ‘Pink Drive’

24 swimmers ended up being selected and the campaign was set. Each swimmer was to raise R10 000 for the Pink Drive and PnP would match that need.

The swimmers varied in age and ability and we all came together beautifully on the day- not to be missed in our bright pink costumes and caps! We were a mixed group from Durbs, Joburg and Cape Town.

All the swimmers came from varying backgrounds- some recently retired Olympians, some were training for SA Masters swimming , iron man or open water swimming and a few who simply had friends they had lost to cancer and were swimming in their honour.

It was a special swim and I hope the first of many . For more information on the Pink Drive, go to : www.pinkdrive.co.za

If you would like to contact me about doing future charity swims, I am super keen to get involved long term in creating awareness  for something bigger than me and am open too challenges and suggestions. You can get hold of me on sarah@encosion.com or 082 754 7930

A quick debrief for those that are interested follows below:

Pink Drive Midmar 8 mile. Photos supplied by Sarah Ferguson

I awoke on Saturday morning with a rapidly increased heart rate and feeling the usual nerves and apprehension one does before a big event. I put a lot of it down to my shoulder injury and the subconscious worry that I would not be able to push through and complete all 8 events. I had done EVERYTHING i could in the build up to get my shoulder ready and for the first time in my sporting career I felt like I had gained the maximum benefit a professional athlete would from a holistic team of highly skilled and passionate sports medicine specialists.

I arrived at Midmar buzzing with apprehension and found my way to the 8 mile tent. To my horror, as I looked around I saw that I was the ONLY one in the sponsored BRIGHT PINK very HIGH CUT costume that we were sponsored and I had assumed we had to swim in! I started to quietly freak out before I saw one of the others I knew was doing the Pink Drive and realised that I was in the wrong tent! What a relief! I walked over to the Pink Drive tent relieved to mingle with all the other BRIGHT pink swimmers 😉

I started to prepare whilst waiting for my second to arrive who I discovered was at the start instead of the finish and so only arrived just in time before i had to get on the boat for the first event!

I was taped, drugged and prayed for, ready to go! The first 3 races were great, the 3rd being my fastest and also the hardest as I decided to take the left side for a change as I heard it was faster and thought I would try take on the top swimmers in our group – two ex Olympians and and an ex Kzn national swimmer.  It took 10 minutes to get through all the swimmers on that 3rd mile and then I felt like I was swimming very skew, but I managed to beat Melissa and AJ and walked out very pleased with myself but decided it wasn’t worth swimming on the left anymore! too much of a bun fight!

The 4th mile was the toughest mentally and physically. My shoulder decided it had had enough and started to inhibit me, I switched to backstroke and breastroke most of the way with a bit of one armed freestyle to get me through the choppy waters. It was a slow mile and rather demoralizing at times but I completed it:-) and I was super stoked to have been able to swim breastroke kick pain free only 2 months after my knee surgery

I met up with some friends and supporters after the race for a picnic lunch and then spent the night with friends in Maritzberg. I was spoilt with a wholesome home cooked meal followed by some emergency treatment, ice, anti-inflammatories and bed! Sleep was cut short by a MASSIVE thunderstorm which woke me at 5am and kept me awake. I was still in significant pain in the morning and for the first time actually thought I may not actually be able to finish this thing

I popped another anti inflammatory, 2 Panados and had a host of people praying. I Stood at the start of day 2 in pain, said a prayer and managed to swim all 4 miles freestyle pain free! The last one was again the toughest, after swimming 6/7 well and not allowing anyone to overtake me (my usual tactic) I had nothing left to give on that last mile and people were swimming past me at the finish. I finished the last one in over 27min (2-3 min slower than my target time!)

It was a great experience and such a mix of people all swimming for something bigger than themselves. The atmosphere was fantastic and we had the luxury of Mangwanani spar pampering us in between races with a neck and shoulder massage. I had to play physio twice to tape a shoulder and forearm- both due over enthusiastic swimmers kicking and yanking arms! Luckily I was well prepared with my tape and medical supplies!

Swimming 8 individual miles was a lot tougher than swimming 8 consecutive miles as you tend to push each mile as you get competitive within yourself and others!

I started the week with an ice bath and full body sports massage which was repeated yesterday to facilitate my recovery. I was spoilt with a pamper box on Monday night and am working hard to get my shoulder fixed so I can start training for my next event (uncertain still what that will be swimming wise!)

I hope to repeat the 8 Mile next year better prepared and aim to beat my times!

Thanks again to EVERYONE for your valuable support. I could not have done it without you all. Till next time

 

Happy swimming!”

 Sarah Ferguson