Swim for Nsumbu success for Conservation Lake Tanganyika

Swim for Nsumbu 2012

After a lot of hype, organising, plan changing and finalising all the participants and dignitaries arrived at Ndole Bay Lodge on Sunday 17th of June in preparation for the 2012 Swim for Nsumbu! By the Monday morning we had finalised the complete team of swimmers and support crew:

Craig Zytkow: Ndole Bay Lodge

Elise Brazier: Ndole Bay Lodge

Christiaan Liebenburg: Chongwe Safaris

Jim Smith: Isanga Bay Lodge/Australia Surf Life Saving

Lasse BachJensen: Eventure

Lasse Frandsen: Eventure

Soren Mikkelsm: Eventure

Robert Michell: Eventure

Victor Chendela: Ndole Bay Lodge/Nsumbu

Emmanuel Mazimba: Ndole Bay Lodge/ Nsumbu

Isaac Chikoye: Community Representation

Mwende Sikazwe: Community Representation

Victor Williams: Nkamba Bay Lodge

All participants attended the safety briefing and procedures,. The game plan was for each swimmer to complete a 20 minute stint in the water and then the next swimmer would enter and tag to continue. Everyone would be rotating through duties as swimmer, safety kayaker, lead kayaker, boat crew and general watch duty. There was also a ZAWA Wildlife Police Officer on the safety boat to keep an eye for any crocs straying into open waters.

After the opening ceremony and speeches the whistle blew and the swim was on; first in was Craig from Ndole who completed his 20 mins and covered good ground. For the first one hour there was a boat with all the GRZ dignataries in attendance after which they fell away and the business of covering as much ground as possible began.

With perfect weather all day we covered more ground than expected and swam until about 1630 in the afternoon, everyone getting into their stride and mostly finding out that 20 minutes open water swimming is harder than it sounds. Most that is except Jim smith with a huge amount of experience in Open water swimming in the ocean; “Jim the swim” thought nothing of the measly 20 minutes and stayed in water for several double shifts providing in water support for some of the slower swimmers. The end of Day one was marked on the GPS and we all returned back to Ndole Bay for a much needed rest and dinner.

Day 2 saw us in water by 8am, within 5 minutes the wind had come up to about 20 knots and swell had risen to a couple of metres making for a very different scene. It was decided to provide safety and support from the catamaran speedboat only as the Kayaks were impossible to keep moving forward in the high winds.

Progress continued however and by mid day we had passed the milestone of Inangu headland and turned south for the first time. The wind dropped off steadily and by mid afternoon we were again making excellent progress and decided to go for the finish that day. Rotations were dropped to 10 minute stints for each swimmer to keep up the pace and by 1630 the Lufubu river mouth and end point at the Western National Park Boundary was in sight. Chris and Jim finished off the final legs in the fading light and for safety reasons the end point was declared at 1 km off the Lufubu river mouth.

Back at Ndole Bay that evening we all agreed that it was an excellent event surpassing all our expectations and perhaps being more of a challenge than many had expected, Jim declaring it the best open water swim he had ever done!

Needless to say that many glasses were raised to the Swim for Nsumbu and Conservation Lake Tanganyika that night around a beach bonfire, our sense of achievement tempered by the realisation that the swim was over.

But this is only the start of Conservation lake Tanganyika and I would like to thank everyone involved in making the event a reality and the sponsors and donors who have provided financial assistance towards the beginning of what we hope to be a successful and sustainable conservation drive to help preserve one of the greatest Natural Wonders in the world!

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