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Swimmer saves lives

Nadia  Sternagel, who endured the cold water of the Atlantic on 17 December and swam a distance of about 16.6 kilometres. from Long Beach to Tiger Reef in Swakopmund to raise awareness on cancer.Perseverance and passion are key when one takes on the challenge to swim, especially covering a distance of about 17 kilometres in the cold Atlantic.
It’s a task a few would want to take on individually, but Nadia Sternagel was determined when she took the plunge.
As temperatures dipped to the low, on 17 December Sternagel braved out in her swimming suit and finished her epic challenge aimed to raise funds for the Cancer Association of Namibia .
Sternagel set the challenge last year to swim from Long Beach to Tiger Reef in Swakopmund to raise awareness on cancer.
Cheered on by supporters, she managed to cover 16.6 kilometres from the initially set 17 kilometres, which took her four hours, 17 minutes and 22 seconds to complete.
The swim was estimated to take at least six to eight intense hours.
Sternagel describes the experience as life changing. “The excitement build up to the swim and the challenges along the way made the cause worth it. I learnt that through hard work and perseverance you can achieve your dreams,” she said.
During the months leading up to the big swim and during the swim itself, she said that her confidence grew and she discovered an inner strength that she never knew she had.
“This is a big accomplishment for me as I am quite a shy person. I was also overwhelmed by the response I had with the awareness campaign and very happy with the donations I was able to raise for the Cancer Association of Namibia. I walk away from this experience knowing that I might have made a small difference in someone’s life, who is suffering from Cancer. At the end of this entire experience I know, deep in my heart that I have made my Grandfather proud,” she added.
Although she was met with a few challenges during the swim, there were no life-threatening emergencies. “However, there was a point during the swim where the ocean was quiet rough and I swallowed a large amount of salt water which in turn caused me to get sick and throw up,” she said.
The paramedics on stand by made sure Sternagel was fine and rehydrated her with fresh water and liquid food supplements.
Meanwhile, Sternagel, who started swimming at the tender age of 13 has been swimming for about eight years now. She has also participated in a number of regional swimming events and was selected to take part in the Junior World Cup in Mauritius as well as the World Cup in Durban in 2005.
“Unfortunately I had to stop swimming after those two events, as I had sustained an injury to my shoulder, which had to be corrected through an operation in 2005 and I was not allowed to swim anymore,” she explained.
But she never gave up on her dream of swimming from Long beach to Tiger Reef in Swakopmund.
“In April 2010 when my Grandfather passed away from Cancer, it was at that moment I was determined to pursue my dream and start the Swimming to Save Lives Charity Campaign,” she added.
In the meantime, given that she will not be able to return and compete professionally due to her shoulder injury, she plans to continue with the Swimming to Save Lives Campaign to raise funds and promote awareness about Cancer. “At a later stage I hope to get more swimmers involved in the campaign and swim longer distances,” she said.
Sternagel managed to raise about N$ 67 100 and there are still donations coming.

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