Carina Bruwer Completes Epic World-First 21km Open Water Swim for Artists
Carina Bruwer Completes Epic World-First 21km Open Water Swim for Artists

Carina Bruwer has become the first person to swim across Walker Bay, in a time of 6:36 in aid of the Tribuo fund and the performing arts sector of South Africa.

Carina Bruwer
Carina Bruwer by Carel Kuschke

She completed this amazing feat in accordance with English Channel swimming rules, wearing only a costume, cap and goggles, and starting and finishing on dry land, without any contact with the support boat throughout the swim.

The route was from Hermanus Old Harbour to Stanford Cove in De Kelders, where she was welcomed by a local crowd of supporters. The official distance of the swim is just shy of 21km, swimming against a strong head current for most of the distance, and water temperature varied between 17.5 and 19 degrees.

With the currents, and Spring Tides the next day, her 21km was more like 27km, says Bjorn von During from South African Shark Conservancy, who piloted the support boat from Blade Charters.

He adds: “The Ocean did play her part giving us pristine conditions otherwise, and she sent all her magnificent creatures along for the swim.” It was a beautiful day on the water, with minimal wind and plenty of sea life.

Carina embarked on this challenge in aid of the Tribuo fund, a non-profit organisation that was created due to the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on the performing arts sector.

Carina Bruwer
Carina Bruwer by Dave De Beer
Carina Bruwer
Carina Bruwer by Dave De Beer

The crossing was coordinated by Walker Bay Adventures, and owner Herman De Vries joined Carina in the water for some sections of the swim.

“there was a huge commotion about 1.5m underneath us…”

“It was wonderful to have company in the water; Herman is a fantastic swimmer and helped keep me motivated to swim at a strong pace, and it was nice to have a friendly energy next to me, especially when at one point, there was a huge commotion about 1,5m underneath us and all we could see was bubbles which were a bit startling.  He was the first to regain composure and to realise it was just an adventurous seal!” said Carina.

Carina Bruwer
Carina Bruwer and Herman de Vries

“Every swim is special but I have to say, this is one I will never forget.  It is always wonderful to pioneer a new swim, and this one is certainly epic in terms of its geography and the incredible sea life that one encounters!”

Carina thanked the amazing volunteers, new friends she made and said “most importantly, this powerful experience is something that I want to mirror to the artist community, to offer hope and empathy.

“thousands of artists who are truly broken – financially and mentally”

“My wish is that we can raise enough money to make a meaningful difference for as many as possible of the thousands of artists who are truly broken – financially and mentally.  And that artists would feel that someone sees them, and that more and more of society would see them, now that they have become invisible and silent due to the decimation of live entertainment.”

The public and supporters donated money on the Tribuo website, the Back-a-buddy crowdsourcing platform and Overstrand locals had a collection drive while Carina completed her 6-hour swim.

The swim was also live-streamed, with live footage from the water being alternated by video messages from musicians like Zolani Mahola, Dr Victor, and many other artist friends and colleagues of Carina’s.

Carina Bruwer
Carina Bruwer by Nadine Theron

Gillian Mitchell from the Tribuo fund was one of the supporters that welcomed Carina on the beach: “It was overwhelming watching Carina approach Walker Bay. Her dedication and support for the arts industry is not only inspiring but a great example of how the community is thinking of initiatives to ensure it survives these uncertain times. The Tribuo fund is 100% dependant on donations from the public and corporate sector and we urge anyone that is in a position to help to visit our website and support. We would also like to thank everyone that has helped us over the last few months and enabled us to support over 300 artists and technicians financially”

The Tribuo Fund was founded in collaboration with Karen Meiring (kykNET), Cornelia Faasen (NATi) and the Feesteforum (Aardklop, KKNK, Innibos, Suidoosterfees, Vrystaatfees and the Toyota US Woordfees) to support freelance artists.

The fund is dependent on contributions by supporters who would like to help the arts during this difficult time. Contributions can be made by private persons, corporate institutions or philanthropic donors. 18A tax certificates will be issued on request. Contributions can be made anonymously, or contributors can be acknowledged as a donor to the fund. Donate here.

In a recent Instagram post, Carina wrote: “When artists are unable to perform their craft, it is not only their livelihood that is affected – it is also their sense of purpose and their vehicle of expression. In most cases their art is their main language and very often it is their whole universe. It is not possible to separate emotion from art, as the very nature of it is spiritual.” She says: “This struggle is exactly what inspired me to embark on this challenge. I need to feel I’m doing something to help, and I want artists who are in a very dark place to know that someone sees them, someone feels their pain.”

Carina Bruwer
Carina Bruwer by-Sarah-Taylor

This sentiment is echoed by the Tribuo Fund. “Artists were one of the groups instantly affected by lockdown and Covid-19 restrictions,” says Tribuo founding member and CEO of NATi, Cornelia Faasen. “Artists seldom have safety nets of savings, insurance or pensions. They work from one production or event to the next. For many of them, the major arts festivals are their primary and most consistent source of income. The performing arts industry finds itself in devastatingly distressed times. Our artists need a helping hand to keep their heads above water. Therefore, our partnership with Carina makes perfect sense.”


WATCH VIDEO: Carina completes world-first 21km across Walker Bay