The Old Diocesan Issue5 Mar2020 - Page 59

Having given up rowing to move
to China, I wanted a physical
challenge – and I wanted to get
out into the world. The cycling
gave me a chance to see beautiful
scenery and meet new people.
You’re a water and ocean lover.
Why do you think you only started
endurance swimming at 29?
Rowing was my big love growing
up, but once I started the Ubunye
Challenge I wanted to try other
sports to raise money. I decided to
swim the English Channel – that’s
when I “learnt” to swim. It took
eight months of training to tackle
the English Channel successfully.
How do you prepare for these
swims? I set a programme based
on the distance I’m training for
– I try to swim it every week. The
Oceans Seven swims are generally
21 miles, which means about 12
hours a week. But Barbados to
St Lucia is 95 miles – so about
55 hours a week. That’s tough!
Cameron’s charity, the Ubunye Challenge, focuses on early development work
with 400 children at 16 sites in the Eastern Cape.
During a swim, you only have one
chance to make the crossing, and
you have no help. During a row,
you generally have crewmates
who can “pull you along” if needed.
Once you’re out in the ocean, the
rate of success is high. They’re
both mental exercises; I think
that’s why I’ve excelled at both.
How do you deal with failure?
What’s the most hazardous
situation you’ve been in?
By not getting attached to a goal
– so if I succeed, I don’t get too
carried away; if I fail, I don’t get
too down about it. This helps me
stay present, and enjoy training
and the actual events.
What made you start doing
events for charity? After cycling
charity and swimming is difficult,
especially as I fund all my swims
and rows myself. But when you
love something and you really
push yourself, everything seems
to work out in the end.
I was stung by four box jellyfish
at 1am during a 24-hour training
swim in Barbados, 100m offshore.
Luckily, I had a kayaker with me,
who helped me get to shore. If
I hadn’t – I usually don’t – I don’t
think I would have made it back.
across Asia, I wanted to keep doing
endurance challenges – but for a
cause. I think everyone, especially
those who grow up privileged,
should give back in some way,
in whatever capacity they can.
Endurance sports, which I’m
good at, gave me a chance to
use something I enjoy to give back.
Tell us about your diet – before
and during an event. I eat as
What do you do when you’re
not preparing for a challenge?
What’s your end goal with the
Ubunye Challenge? Our vision
much as I can when I’m training.
It helps to think of my body as
a furnace; everything I eat gets
burned and used for energy. During
the actual events, I stick to a diet
I’ve designed over the past eight
years: carbohydrate drinks, nut
butters, energy gels, bananas, etc.
I’m a businessman, and run a
cyber-security company. I met my
business partner while swimming
the Strait of Gibraltar. It was so
random – doing the swim together,
then discussing work/business
afterwards. Six months later, we
were business partners in San
Francisco. I’m quite “hands-off”,
which allows for flexibility when
it comes to training and travel.
But when I’m not training,
I work quite hard.
sums it up: that no child in South
Africa should be without access
to education – especially early
childhood development.
What unexpected challenges have
you faced? Tying to manage work,
Which is more difficult: rowing or
swimming? Rowing is definitely
more dangerous, but I’d say it’s
harder to succeed at swimming.
What’s next? I’m planning a swim
in August. Depending on which
swim I choose, it could be the
longest unassisted swim in history.
Jeremy Ryall (2014F) is the
communications officer at the ODU.

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