Durban-based open water swimming legend Sarah Ferguson is well into an ocean swim from her home city to Cape Town to raise awareness about plastic in the ocean.
She has encountered the scourge in large and small forms ‒ plastic bottles, bottle tops, chips packets ‒ as she “klaps” between 15km and 45km a day.
“I’ve actually seen no sharks while swimming, only hammerheads from the boat,” she said in reply to the obvious question, speaking by phone from Mazeppa Bay about 100km north of East London on Thursday. Yesterday she set off for Cintsa.
“I think the boat gives them a fright.”
Otherwise, she has enjoyed the company of porpoises, seen turtles and had little fish stick on to her for company as she swims along in a meditative state.
“I think of very little while swimming,” said Ferguson. “I do lots of calculations and thinking about the targets I set for myself.”
When she's at the top of the swell about 30km offshore, she catches a glimpse of the coastline and has enjoyed the scenic Wild Coast, approaching it in the backup boat at the end of each day.
She made a grand beaching at Hole in the Wall by swimming through the famous gap.
“I was lucky with the tide, the time, the swell and waves.”
The Agulhas current has been a great boon, helping Ferguson to double her speed to between 5½ and 7km/h, she said.
While enjoying a hot-cross bun at the end of a day's swimming, she said she snacked every half-hour while in the water and every two hours while on land.
“When I am tired I am not hungry, so I have things like smoothies that are easier."
Ferguson has managed to meet with locals but plans to return to communities during a six-month break from her expedition, including when the sardine run takes occupation of the waters. She plans to swim into Cape Town in December. She left Durban from Vetch’s Beach on February 21.
While one leg of her effort involves stroke after stroke in the ocean, the other is to raise funds to continue her mission.
For further information visit http://www.breatheconservation.org/
The Independent on Saturday