It’s been there, done that, got the, ahem, T-Shirt for local swimmer Justin Nurse (44) who klapped his first Robben Island last month, and then wrote all about it for Daily Maverick!
People with the same amount of grey hair as me might remember Justin as the Rhodes University Journ and Politics student, who took on and saw off corporate Goliath SAB in the Con Court in 2005, over his right to exercise his free speech in his T-Shirt business. SAB Miller took Justin to court claiming that one of his logos, a parody of a Black Label advert, Black Labour, White Guilt, was an infringement of their trademark.
The CLDSA caught up with Justin, who says he is still making T-Shirts, but that he won’t be making a Robben Island one just yet. “At the moment, I’m helping some mates out with a surf poncho brand called LMNOP. I made swimming Ts once that said “Just one swim away from a good mood” for Cape Town Masters Swimming and that about sums it up.”
Justin has been putting in some serious time in the Bainskloof water features, and says that a Cape Point swim might be on the cards. “I swim every day here in the cold mountain pools. Nothing too long mind you, always just enough to restart the system. My swimming is like Forrest Gump’s running. No real agenda, more just to get out of my own head. I’ll be doing this as a way of life preservation from here on out. Add a decade to my life, hopefully.
Justin says that cold water swimming is a good way to exorcise one’s demons. “It’s like you’re pickling your brain in a jar for the duration of one’s swim. Like when they tell you to focus on the breath in yoga. I eventually get there with swimming after my mind has quieted down. An exercise in futility is at least exercise. That’s what I tell myself…”He advises would-be swimmers to commit to small, manageable amounts and take it one swim at a time.
“Once you can manage an hour in ice-cold Clifton, you’re good to go. Have a partner who you can share the experience with – even if they’re not totally at the same pace as you. And embrace the fear.”
And the hardest part of his swim? “Probably sucking in some petrol fumes from the boat when I got close to shore. I had perfect conditions, I found it really easy to do, and had I known it would be such a breeze I might’ve pushed harder to do a sub 3. I did it in 03h04. There’s a strange moment too when you come onto dry land and it feels like you’re entering into another world. It’s quite discombobulating. I wonder if that’s how amphibians feel?”
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