Couple to tackle ‘bone crushing’ swim

ST Francis Bay swimming couple, Cath (46) and Clinton Hempel (48), will don their winter woolies for a ‘bone crushing’ open water swim this September - all for a good cause.

Wearing only a costume, swim cap and goggles, the husband-and-wife-team will compete in the annual Bone Crusher Charity Swim event at the British Virgin Islands on September 8.

The event, a 10km open water swim, will see participants take to the water from Brewer’s Bay on Tortola to Little Harbour on Jost van Dyke in aid of 11-year-old K’Shonda who was diagnosed with Osteosarcoma (a rare and aggressive form of bone cancer) in December 2017. K’Shonda has a long road of treatment ahead of her after her right leg was amputated in a life-saving surgery. She still needs many rounds of chemotherapy, prosthesis and physiotherapy.

The Hempels hope to raise at least R20 000 for K’Shonda through sponsorships.

Swimming in the British Virgin Islands, will not be new territory for the Hempels who used to live there for many years and are currently rebuilding their home that was destroyed during Hurricane Irma last year September.

However, it will be the first time that the couple, who trains at Liquid Lines in Cape St Francis, will tackle the Bone Crusher Charity Swim - and swim for 10km non-stop in the ocean.

Cath says you will not easily get her swimming in the sea - she is too afraid of sharks.

“But swimming in the British Virgin Island will be different. The water is crystal clear, and the stingrays and turtles are far less horrifying than the local sharks.

Adding to the challenge are the unpredictable water conditions: the wind, if there are waves, how big the waves are, currents and the adrenaline rush of the unknown in the water.

“Open water is truly a different race each time you swim,” says Cath; who competed in some open water swims before - nothing longer than 3.5km at a time.

“The course is different, the water tempe-rature is different, and there might be currents that suddenly appear in the middle of your race.”

And then there is the distance. “I swim 2.5km every morning, but I will have to up my distance if I want to complete the charity swim in less than 4.5 hours - the cut-off time for the swim - or our goal time of 3 hours,” she says.

Her secret to complete the event: find a pace that will keep her going.

To help the Hempels support the family of K’Shonda to cover medical expenses and the financial strain of receiving much-needed treatment, send and email to cath.hempel@ or