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Showing how it’s done – swimming coach goes the extra mile in fight against childhood cancer

Francois Theron is seen in action during the recent swimming gala that was held at Karen Muir. Picture: Danie van der Lith

FLAMINGO Aquatics swimming coach Francois Theron recently proved his credentials as a mentor when he clocked eight miles (almost 13km) over two days in open water at the 2023 Midmar Mile that took place between February 9 and 10.

Theron has been Flamingo’s swimming coach since 2021 and the 27-year-old said that he has been swimming since he can remember. So when a friend asked if he would like to swim the Midmar Mile for a charity event, he could not say no to that invitation.

The funds raised from the Midmar Mile charity event are used to support various charities and organisations that work towards improving the lives of South Africans. Over the years, the event has raised millions of rands for charity, making it a truly worthwhile cause.

This year, a total of 51 swimmers entered to swim for their charity, which was CHOC (Childhood Cancer Foundation South Africa). Theron raised a total of R15,600 as an individual for CHOC, while all 51 swimmers as a whole raised R761,000. This was the second-highest total raised, beaten only by the Pink Drive Charity, which raised R904,000.

Theron explained that during the two-day charity event, swimmers can decide to do the eight-mile or 16-mile charity swim. Over the next two days, each swimmer could decide how they wanted to complete those miles, as long as all eight or 16 miles were completed at the end of the event.

For his part, Theron decided to split the distance down the middle and do four miles on each day.

“What’s nice about the charity event is that you are in no rush to complete it. If you want to swim one mile at a time and rest, four times a day that is fine. You can even have a floating device with you to rest on for a while before continuing,” he told the DFA. “Your goal is to complete eight miles over two days, that’s all,” said Theron.

Theron also said that this was his first but not his last time taking part in the Midmar charity event.

“Next year, I would like to take some of my swimmers from the Flamingo Aquatics with me to take part in this charity event, in the hopes of raising more money for this very important charity cause.

“Being part of this event makes me feel like I made a difference in the lives of children who have been affected by cancer, and hopefully this money will assist them to get the right treatment and eventually be cancer-free.”

Swimming Coach Francois Theron is seen with Regional Manager for CHOC KZN, Agie Govender after he completed the event. Picture: Supplied

Other charities that raised funds were CANSA R503,000, Happy Bundles R417,000, Chad Le Clos Foundation R254,000, Frankie and Friends R76,000, and Save the Rhino R73,000.

According to swimmers that have participated in the Midmar Mile, the dam’s clear waters and stunning surroundings make it a beautiful place to swim, and the event atmosphere is one of fun and camaraderie. Swimmers say that it is a true celebration of swimming and the human spirit.

The annual open-water swimming event held in the Midmar Dam in KwaZulu-Natal is considered to be one of the largest open-water swimming events in the world. It has a rich history dating back to 1974 when it was first held and attracts thousands of participants each year.

The event is open to swimmers of all ages and skill levels, and participants can choose to swim either one or two miles of the approximately 2.2 kilometre-long body of water.

Getting to know ChOC a bit better

The Childhood Cancer Foundation of South Africa is a non-profit organisation that focuses on providing support to 1,736 children and teenagers with cancer, as well as their families. One unique aspect of CHOC is its emphasis on providing holistic care that goes beyond medical treatment.

In addition to providing financial and emotional support, CHOC offers a range of complementary therapies, such as art therapy, music therapy, and counselling services, to help children and their families cope with the emotional and psychological impact of cancer.

They also have a dedicated team of social workers who work closely with families to address their unique needs and concerns.

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