8 Miles is exactly 12.8748km’s. Or 12874.80 meters. Or if we’re going to get technical here, it’s just shy of 515 lengths of a 25 meter pool. 515 lengths of a pool ?
And so, on the 8th & 9th of February 2020, I’ll be swimming ALL 8 races at the largest open water event in the world, The Midmar Mile. I’ve joined the team from Friends of the Swimmers Trust & The Chad Le Clos Foundation, which promotes and provides Learn-to-Swim opportunities to communities on the North Coast of KZN, to help raise funds for this amazing cause.
Being a swim family that attends numerous gala’s and open-water swims, we believe that every child is a swimmer, and drowning CAN be prevented with teaching EVERYONE to swim.
Before I tell my story of how I got here, I wanted to pop the link for Fundraising in here -> http://bit.ly/8mile2020
I’ll get to the nitty gritty of the Fundraising in a bit. (Read the story below first though!)
You may be asking yourself, “how did you get here?”
It’s quite a story, but I’m going to cut back to Feb 2018. It was, ironically, 3 days before the 2018 edition of the Midmar Mile. Our 3 (awesome, amazing, talented) kids were entered into their first Midmar Mile event. I had been attending a strength training gym for the last couple of months, and was at an early morning session with my daughter. My set for the day included a dead-lift, which I had done plenty times before. It was my last set, and I pulled up and felt the most crazy, ridiculous pain in my lower back.
I immediately knew something wasn’t right and went straight home. Over the next couple of days I treated the pain with a couple of painkillers and anti-inflammatories. The Saturday morning before the Midmar event, we were staying on a farm in the Midlands, and when I woke up, I could hardly move. . The injury had progressed to a point where my wife had to take me down to the local hospital in an attempt to see how we could alleviate the pain.
The Sunday was the main event and we went down to the dam. It was an awesome day out with the family and once again, our kids made us super proud!
Allow me to be open with you about my life at the time: It wasn’t great. Far from it. I was overweight. Not just a little, but a lot. The “Strength Training” hadn’t helped, but I also ate terribly. It is hard for me to try and actually establish what my weight was at that time in my life, because, well, every scale we had used just showed “OL”. Which I guess stands for “Overload”.
No scale could go past 150 kgs. This meant I was well over the 150 kg mark. And more likely closer to 160 kgs. Obesity was completely real. And it sucked. Obesity drags you into a dark place, without you even knowing. You are always tired, sick, grumpy and just fed up with everything.
Fast forward a couple of months to June, and I was fortunate to get an amazing 3 week trip around Southern Africa, which wasn’t easy given the extreme back & leg pain I was in.
On my way home I called my wife and asked her to make an appointment with the doctor I had seen before I left, to see if we can fix this. When he saw me, he suggested we do a laminectomy to remove a disc that had slipped in my lower back. It meant I had a 6 week recovery period, but I knew it had to be done.
6 weeks on your back isn’t as fun as it sounds. But, it gave me lots (and lots) of time to think. I knew I had to make a change to my lifestyle & body, to make sure that, one day, I would be able to see these kids WIN the Midmar Mile.
On the 2nd of September 2018 I celebrated my 40th surrounded by an amazing group of friends & family. 4 days later I went to the doctor for my final check up. They gave me the all clear and when I asked if I could start exercising. They agreed, as long as I went easy.
And then every day I went back and swam more, until I was swimming 1.6km non stop after 2 weeks. IT WAS AMAZING.
Because swimming is a low-impact exercise, it gives a cardio workout while simultaneously building muscle, and as I soon started to find out, it also helps shed weight. I started losing weight and I could start feeling a difference in my body. I also started doing Parkruns on Saturday mornings, and even got a Mountain Bike. I basically became a pro athlete, right?
Fast forward to October 2019.
I feel like a brand new person. More than 30kgs down.
Like a different person.
Like I want to make a difference.
Like being able to do things I never thought were possible.
Like being able to believe in yourself.
Like swimming 8 miles, or 515 lengths of a pool, over 2 days
But I am humbly proud of where I am today and how far I have come. I’ve done one Capital K Swim, one Midmar swim, two 10km runs, one triathlon which became a duathlon, four Dolphin Mile swims, one Hot Amashova, one Sun City 1.5km Swim and thirty one (thirty one!) Parkruns and over 256km of Pool Swims!!!
I’m about to embark on eight Midmar Miles in two days. From over 150 kgs, to eight Midmar Miles in a single year. I want you to know, that no matter how dark things may seem, they can get better. You do have what it takes. Trust me. You don’t need to believe in yourself, you just need to believe my story.
In conclusion, I have a goal of R12,000 to raise over the next couple of months towards the Friends of the Swimmers Trust & The Chad Le Clos Foundation. As I mentioned earlier, the focus of these 2 foundations is to ensure that every child in South Africa is able to swim. South Africa’s drowning mortality rate is estimated to be around 1500 drownings PER YEAR. Across all age groups. And we can help prevent that.
If you can, I would appreciate any sort of contribution to help towards this fantastic cause.
My personal Online Fundraising page is located at http://bit.ly/8mile2020
I’ll be posting some of my training in the buildup as well as event reports once we done with Midmar 8 Mile in 2020!