Oneida Cooper poses with her father, Saths, on Robben Island in this picture posted on her Instagram account.
Cape Town - Former national swimmer Oneida Cooper spared a thought of praise for former Robben Island political prisoners after raising R70 000 for her non-profit swim school when she completed a swim from Robben Island to Bloubergstrand on Sunday.

“I don’t think there are any words that can describe the feeling of knowing what my father (Doctor Saths Cooper) and other political prisoners went through on the island, knowing their freedom was not guaranteed and my knowing that I was swimming for what they have guaranteed, and that is freedom for South Africa,” said 25-year-old Oneida.

She and eight supporters began their stamina-sapping swim at 7am to raise funds for her Making Waves Together South Africa NPO swimming school in Johannesburg.

Conditions had not been favourable, with 3m swells throughout their swim, she said.

“It was a very tough 2.5km at the start and I wanted to stop. From there I had another four times that I pleaded with them to take me out of the water.

“If it wasn’t for my brother, Athisten Cooper, and my family and friends, and my eight fellow swimmers as well as all the people who donated money to the swim, I would not have been able to pull through.

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I honestly have no words to describe today’s experience. If it wasn’t for my brother @ath_cooper I wouldn’t have been able to complete today. I am usually a very tough person but 2.5kms into the swim I started crying and wanted to give up, he refused. About 3.5/4kms in I begged for them to take me out and he refused. 5.5/6kms in i tried to plead with our skipper Daren to give me a push and they refused. A mile out I said “please take me out, I can’t do it anymore” and he refused. At 250m out my brother dove into the freezing cold water and swam me in. I cried throughout the swim, but at the end I cried tears of Joy for everyone that has been a part of the wave but most importantly my father and his comrades who guaranteed the freedom of South Africa. A huge congratulations to all the amazing swimmers who were a part of this amazing initiative, regardless of the outcome we can all be proud of ourselves. This was bigger than us.

A post shared by Oneida Cooper (@oneida_cooper) on

“We raised about R70 000 and definitely see this amount rising. Our fundraising does not stop because the swim is over. We’ll continue to fundraise,” added Oneida.

She thanked everyone who had been part of her Making Waves Together South Africa NPO fundraiser, which was the first of many accomplishments that were to follow.

Oneida launched Making Waves Together South Africa last year to teach children, as well as adults, to swim.

Her previous swimming achievements include representing South Africa at the 2008 Commonwealth Youth Games in India and the All Africa Junior Championships in 2009, as well as having swam at the Youth Olympics and the Mare Nostrum Series in 2010, she said.

Cape Times