‘It’s something nice to do with my children’ – Blind swimmer preparing for Midmar Mile
Taschica Pillay | 2017-02-09 14:24:32.0
Image by: Jackie Clausen
Visually impaired Pretoria lawyer and politician Hentie Nortje will swim the Midmar Mile — the biggest open-water swimming event in the world — this weekend in aid of raising money for guide dogs.
Nortje‚ 54‚ will swim his 17th consecutive race on Saturday‚ accompanied by his sons‚ Henco and Arno.
The 44th Midmar Mile will take place on Saturday and Sunday in KwaZulu-Natal and has attracted over 11‚000 swimmers.
Seven time men’s winner‚ Chad Ho‚ will be up against Olympic champion Ferry Weertman from the Netherlands.
The oldest participant to tackle the annual event is 86-year-old Arnold Beukes while is youngest is five-year-old Emma van Romburgh.
Nortje said after his 10th Midmar Mile‚ he decided to swim for non-governmental organisations and schools to be able to give something back to the community.
Over the last four years Nortje has raised money‚ with the assistance of Backabuddy‚ for the Carel Du Toit Centre for children with hearing disabilities‚ Pathways-Pretoria School for multi-disabled children‚ Pula Difate Primary School and the Democratic Alliance.
“This year I decided to go back to my roots as a blind person and swim for the South African Guide Dog Association. Although I don’t use a guide dog myself‚ I know from experience from friends who are also blind what a guide dog can do. The Guide Dog Association is an old institution but they don’t get any subsidies from the State‚” said Nortje.
Nortje said he has raised R15‚000 thus far and will continue raising funds until March 19.
He said he loves sport‚ adding that the Midmar Mile was one of the best organised events in the country.
Since 2010‚ he has been swimming with his sons‚ one to his side and one in the middle behind them‚ who aid as his “pilots”.
“It’s a nice experience for me to be able to do something with my children. We can’t play golf together or go on a hunting trip. This is a nice family outing‚” said Nortje.
Event director‚ Wayne Ridden‚ said they were ahead of schedule with their planning.
“The marker buoys are already out. International swimmers were on course on Thursday morning. Everything is looking pretty good.
“The water level is at 60%‚ higher than last year’s 47%‚” said Ridden.
– TMG Digital/TimesLIVE