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A Cape Town businessman is aiming to become the first South African to conquer seven of the world’s most brutal, long-distance, open water swims known as “Oceans Seven” – and help poor communities in the process.
Property expert, extreme athlete and motivational speaker, Toni Enderli, has completed two of the seven challenges (the 34km English Channel and the 12.5km Strait of Gibraltar), wearing only a Speedo costume, cap and goggles, and aims to become the first South African to complete all seven.
Only six international swimmers have completed Oceans Seven — the marathon swimming equivalent of the Seven Summits mountaineering challenge. The feat requires the ability to swim in extremely cold and warm seas and physical and mental skills to overcome every condition known to defeat open water swimmers, according to the World Professional Marathon Swimming Federation.
Through pledges and donations via his website, www.toni.co.za, Enderli is raising money for global charities Habitat for Humanity which provides homes for the poor and Generosity.org which supplies clean water to disadvantaged communities. Locally, he is raising funds for the National Sea Rescue Institute’s water safety programme for disadvantaged children. Enderli estimates it will take 160 000 swim strokes to complete the remaining five challenges and aims to raise $1 per stroke.
As part of his training, Enderli will take on a first-ever, gruelling 30km swim over three consecutive days in mid-October from Three Anchor Bay to Robben Island (11km), followed by a loop around the island the next day (10km) and then from the island to Melkbosstrand (10km) on day three.
Enderli’s wife and two children will join him on his travels. He is currently preparing for the third of the seven swims, the 32km Catalina Channel between Catalina Island and Long Beach, California, set for July 2017. This swim starts at midnight to ensure favourable tides and in addition to darkness, Enderli faces extremely strong currents, massive swells and sharks.
Then, Enderli takes on the ultra-distance, 41km, Molokai Strait – an extremely dangerous swim due to aggressive sea life, including sharks and jellyfish, unusually large swells, choppy water and unpredictably strong winds. As a veteran “ice” swimmer, training in ocean temperatures around 13ᵒC or lower, Enderli will be exposed to extremely warm water and tropical heat in Hawaii.
In September 2018, Enderli and his family travel to Ireland for the icy 35km North Channel swim between Ireland and Scotland. Then, in February 2019 he takes on the 22km Cook Strait in New Zealand, before heading to northern Japan for the final swim – the 26km Tsugaru Strait.
Enderli’s challenge is driven by his passion for life and his family — and his desire to give back: “I believe in unleashing the mind’s potential, constantly pushing boundaries to achieve dreams and helping make a difference by giving back to those in need.”