SA flag flutters above clouds

Henry

Hello world! We did it,” Vanes-Mari du Toit announced on her WhatsApp group on Sunday.

The former Protea netballer and the rest of the Madswimmer team literally reached new heights with their Himalayas swim session, 6,405 m above sea level.

The South African-led expedition not only improved Daniel Bull’s high swimming record of 6,370 m above sea level (which the Aussie set in the Andes in 2020), but in the same breath also put the spotlight on global warming.

According to Jean Craven, group leader and Madswimmer founder, the trek leading up to the final swim was the hardest part of the trip.

After three flights and 17 difficult hours in four-wheel drive vehicles, the team stood their ground against the difficult weather conditions of the Himalayas.

With the help of 18 Sherpas and a caravan of 35 donkeys and yaks (horn buffalo) equipment was carried up the mountain while the climbers had to fight against wind and snow.

“The last accessible water we could swim in was at an altitude of 4,900 m above sea level,” Craven said.

“To improve the world record, we had to venture higher and create a suitable swimming environment at 6,405 m.”

A waffle pool was immediately carved out of the icy terrain, while water was stored overnight in large drums.

Even the swimming pool had to get a blanket – it was covered with a tent cloth to prevent it from freezing again.

“The next day we packed away the tent cloth and filled the pool with water. After that we took turns swimming for three minutes each in our Speedos. The water temperature was 3.7 °C, while it was a shivering -6 °C outside.”

Du Toit said in the run-up to the adventure that she was ready for the challenge.

“I try to live my life with integrity. So if I encourage people to leave their comfort zone, trust in God and live life to the fullest, but I don’t do it myself, then I’m a bit hypocritical, right?”