Rooibos and Long Distance Swimming by Anton Louw

Rooibos and Long Distance Swimming by Anton Louw

Rooibos is a plant from dry desert areas. So, it’s always a bit surprising that we continue to learn that it has a strong relationship with creatures that live in and around water, such as fish, amphibians as well as amphibious humans.

 We recently learned that aquarium keepers love to add Rooibos to their water to keep their fish happy and swimming in a ‘tea’, like the vegetation rich habitats that they come from. Not a world away, but far less happily, amphibians globally are under threat from a disease call Chytrid fungus. The cure is to bathe the frogs and newts in cool rooibos tea. Once again Rooibos shows its healing properties.

Langebaan Express Sunbird Rooibos

Meanwhile, at home, but also abroad, we recently learned Rooibos is the drink of choice for long distance swimmers – along with some honey and Maltodextrin. We usually advocate drinking Rooibos unsweetened so its own flavour stands out, but sugar is not a bad thing if you’re burning it off.

Derrick Frazer of Big Bay Events has been running swimming for a few years now, including English Channel crossings. Having recently got into swimming myself, I signed up for his 12 km (!) Langebaan Express swim. It seemed like a long way, but it’s a beautiful route along the langebaan lagoon, and I’m up for challenge, so we donned the speedo, cap and goggles and took the plunge. We also offered to provide the Rooibos for the day, as well as give some samples in the goodie bag. It seems that both were well received; before, during and after. We also made a flag for them to fly at the floating feeding stations.

Langebaan Express Sunbird Rooibos

A full capacity 100 swimmers started at Kraal Bay with a 6km route finishing in Langebaan and the 12km all the way at Mykonos. A mild day with a good current assisting us – hence the ‘express’ part – made for perfect swimming conditions. The swim itself was brilliant. Almost four hours of swimming seems like a lot, but I enjoyed it all the way. Watching the views slide past on alternate breaths is a great way to track progress and a few rests allow one to take it all in.

But receiving a cup of sweet Rooibos from the feeding boats at four different points was naturally a highlight. It tastes great and buoys morale like you wouldn’t believe. It’s also a challenge within a challenge to receive the cup, drink it while treading water and getting pulled by the current, and pass it back to the downstream collecting boat. But, that’s all part of the fun!

With that under our belt, we’re looking at doing the crossing from Robben Island to Big Bay next. And with that under our belts, we’ll continue to look for new ways for Sunbird to support our aquatic friends.

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