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Who thinks they can Swim from New York to London?

Botswana-born Michael Ventre thinks he can! By day Michael, 38 is an IT engineer in London. However in his spare time he is in constant training for a colossal attempt to swim approximately 6,000 kilometers from New York to London!  In April 2017, he embarks on this phenomenal and world record feat that will take him between 5 – 8 months. At the same time, he needs your help to raise millions of Pula for charity.

Knowing Michael as I have, since Broadhurst Primary School, nothing he does amazes me anymore, except for this planned swim!  Even at Broadhurst he was picked out for greatness. No doubt he was by far the best swimmer in our age group among the so called ‘Big Three’ Gaborone-based primary schools of Broadhurst, Northside and Thornhill in the 1980s.  On the ‘Honours Roll,’ in Broadhurst, his name is inscribed as having earned the award for ‘Leadership.’

It was in this period at the age of ten, that Michael developed a strong passion for long-distance endurance swimming. He claims it began when he watched Thomas Gregory of England, becoming the youngest person to swim the English Channel (The body of water that separates England from France) on television. I have remained close friends with Michael since then and never doubted his burning desire to accomplish something fantastic within this sport.

So far his swimming resume goes like this: The English Channel (15 hours 18 minutes) and Molokai Channel (22 hours 30 minutes). You can see this swimmer has real endurance in his blood – he swam the Catalina channel in Los Angeles; Also Ice in his veins (He’s competed in the Winter Swimming World Championships in Latvia and Finland without a wetsuit). Added with courage to boot (Robben Island to Blouberg in 2 hours 33 minutes) and most definitely inspired by a charitable spirit.

Staying on the topic of Charity; for ‘The New York to London Swim’, Michael is working with Oxfam, a large British charity and is attempting this swim in his efforts to raise £5m (about P75 million) for this charity in a bid to ‘End extreme poverty by 2030.’

After Broadhurst Michael subsequently went to High School and University in South Africa and has said, “Whilst growing up in Southern Africa it was impossible not to notice the vast contrasts in social inequality between different communities.

It's not acceptable that millions of people suffer severe deprivation of basic human needs, including food, safe drinking water, sanitation facilities, health, shelter and education. This is an opportunity for me to take a stand and to assist in the alleviation of extreme poverty by the year 2030. Oxfam and I need your help as this is a colossal task but I believe that we can overcome any challenge if we come together and play our part.”

This huge world-record attempt of swimming the Atlantic Ocean will be a gruelling open water challenge testing both mind and body as Michael navigates sharks, killer whales, jellyfish, shipping debris and unpredictable weather conditions such as Atlantic hurricanes.

Michael will be accompanied at all times by two support boats with all necessary satellite communications, navigational and safety systems installed. Aboard those support boats will be health professionals, a sports psychologist and others as he will swim for six to eight hours every day, with breaks for lunch, dinner and rest.

When not swimming in the Gulf Stream (A powerful Atlantic Ocean current) he should cover between 22 and 28 kilometers a day, but the Gulf Stream could push that distance up from 32 to 64 kilometers a day. He will sleep on the support boat and a GPS reading will be taken each evening when he leaves the water so he can start from the same position the next morning.

Michael will be wearing regular swimming trunks, a swim cap and goggles as well as a wetsuit depending on environmental conditions. He may also wear an MP3 player and have radio communication with the crew whilst in the water. To reduce the effects of ‘Salt mouth’ Michael may use a snorkel, and in the event that the currents become too strong he may use fins for extra speed and propulsion.

The key thing is that the event will not happen unless Michael gets help from the public and corporate sponsors to get him to the start line.   Therefore in part, this article is also an Appeal to all readers to help him in this astonishing bid to raise funds for his journey as well as to help Oxfam in its aim to end extreme poverty. Right now he has Two separate campaigns: 1: To raise funds to get him to the start line. 2: To then raise funds for Oxfam once the event is confirmed.  Please go to his website at http://www.newyorktolondonswim.com/michael/ To donate and keep up to date with his progress.

In the words of one Director of Oxfam, “Like the swim, ending poverty may seem impossible, but we can end this injustice. By working together, we can create a fairer, safer world where everyone has the chance to reach their full potential. I hope you will join me in supporting Michael as he takes on this mammoth challenge for the 1.2 billion people currently living in extreme poverty.”

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