SA endurance swimmer Sarah Ferguson sets a new world record
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This was part of Swim Against Plastic, a global campaign to help end plastic pollution.
Global NPOs Plastic Oceans International and Breathe Conservation, dedicated to solving the pollution problem, announced that Ferguson had achieved the world record swim on Saturday.
She completed 63.5km over 19 hours and eight minutes, finishing ahead of schedule in a swim expected to take about 24 hours.
“It’s an incredibly special moment for my team and me right now. To have pioneered a swim like this is still something I am wrapping my head around. But to have succeeded in doing something no one else has done is both humbling and amazingly exciting,” Ferguson said.
“I hope that just as I swam around Easter Island one stroke at a time, people will choose to make one small decision at a time around single-use plastic to help preserve this beautiful blue ocean of ours.”
The goal of Swim Against Plastic is to encourage people to rethink their habits toward single-use, or throwaway, plastic and empower them to change and become part of the solution.
Ferguson swam through dangerous currents facing many serious risks to accomplish this first.
She trained extensively to prepare and arrived on Easter Island from South Africa on March11.
Easter Island was chosen because the surrounding waters contain one of the highest concentrations of microplastics in the Pacific Ocean, despite its distant location.
The Chilean territory is considered the most remote inhabited island on the planet, more than 2 000 nautical miles from the Chilean coast, between Chile and New Zealand, with the nearest island more than 1 200 miles away.
Most microplastics on Easter Island originate from sources thousands of miles away, and along with larger pieces of plastic, travel to the island as a result of the South Pacific Gyre.
An additional 20 tons of trash is produced daily on the island, which has prevalent waste management issues, especially related to the exponentially growing tourism industry and increasing population.
Easter Island is most famous for its nearly 1 000 extant monumental statues, called moai, created by the early Rapa Nui people. In 1995, the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation named it a World Heritage Site.
For more information, visit Swim AgainstPlastic.com, and follow #SwimAgainstPlastic on social media.