Swim for Nsumbu is an open water swimming event on Lake Tanganyika created to bring attention to the challenges facing Lake Tanganyika — challenges caused by overfishing, climate change, poaching and general environmental degradation. The 2014 swim for Nsumbu was a continuation of similar events held in 2012 and 2013.
Who organises this event?The annual ‘Swim for Nsumbu’ event is organised by Conservation Lake Tanganyika (CLT), a non profit organisation based in Zambia which aims to promote and preserve the biodiversity of Lake Tanganyika for the benefit of its inhabitants. Its area of focus in Nsumbu National Park in Zambia’s portion of Lake Tanganyika, arguably one of the most astonishing wonders on earth.
What was special about the 2014 event?This year, CLT was contacted by a group of open water swimmers in South Africa called Mad Swimmer, who conduct challenging open water swims throughout the world for charity. Their enquiry lead to a collaboration between Madswimmer and CLT through the Swim for Nsumbu event. The decision was made to attempt the first ever trans Tanganyika open water swim, swimming in one day across lake Tanganyika from Tanzania in the east to Zambia in the west — a total distance of 40kms. It was agreed that the focus would be raising awareness and funds for CLTs work in and around Nsumbu National Park and the date was set for November 8th, 2014.
So how did the day go?By the 8th of November some 17 passionate swimmers from 4 countries had gathered at Ndole Bay Lodge, which was organising the day’s activities and providing logistic support. Zambia, South Africa, Kenya and the Netherlands were all represented by swimmers. An early morning departure saw 2 support boats with all the participants arrive on the eastern shore of Lake Tanganyika at sunrise. The first group of swimmers entered the calm water and began following the lead kayak to the west, with the Nangu headland in the distance.
Conditions favored the event and despite some winds there was good progress made all day. The procedure was for the strongest swimmers to take the lead and set the pace. At intervals of 45 minutes a boat collected the swimmers at the back of the pack and brought them up to the front ensuring that there was no compromise on safety. Some participants swam in teams, each participant alternating every 45 minutes. Jean Craven and Robert Dunford, being the strongest swimmers, remained in water for successive 45 minute intervals, taking in energy drinks and food while in the water at each changeover.
The total distance covered by swimmers was 38.5 kms, Jean Craven of South Africa was the only one to complete the entire distance nonstop, a truly amazing feat! The total swimming time was 12 hours.
Funds raisedA total of ZMW45,000 was raised this year from corporate sponsorship in Zambia, ZAR20,000 from the South African corporate sponsorship, and a further ZAR125,000 from funds raised by the individual swimmers! These funds will go towards supporting Conservation Lake Tanganyika’s Village Scout unit as well as supporting lake patrols in Nsumbu National Park to deter illegal fishing in the protected waters. The swim was also endorsed and supported by the Zambia Wildlife Authority, a major partner and beneficiary of Conservation Lake Tanganyika.
The 2014 Swim for Nsumbu event was the most successful yet. CLT hopes it continues to attract much needed awareness and funds to help protect Lake Tanganyika — an amazing resource that is under threat.
The Best of Zambia has been supporting Conservation Lake Tanganyika since May 2013. Read more about it here.