Tonight with Lester Podcast

Sarah Ferguson - Swimming against plastic


Guest : Sarah Ferguson

There are 2 questions people have consistently asked me since my return: 1- what does
it feel like to be a world record holder? 2- What’s next?
I have found it difficult to answer the first question. I have not changed directly. I am still
me, my job is still the same and life carries on as if nothing happened in many regards.
Bu, being a world record holder has already opened up a lot of doors and opportunities
which I am going to focus on exploring in this next season. I want to fully absorb and
process what we have accomplished and maximise on the exposure from this swim.
The biggest impact to me so far from this trip has been the unprecedented power of
teamwork. There were over 7 different countries represented in making this swim
happen. (South Africa, USA, Chile, Latvia, Denmark, UK, Rapa Nui) The only other time in
my life that I have experienced such effective teamwork and unity was when I was a
youth leader and university.
Having such different cultures and personalities uniting together to bring their very best
skills to a common cause, for me, was mind-blowing and such an incredible joy to
experience.
The power of teamwork was second to none. Including the local community in this
campaign was such an incredible privelage.
Rapa Nui is an incredibly unique place. The people are remarkable and welcomed us
generously into their homes and culture. From a population of 15 000 to 100 they
almost became extinct, but through clever planning and hard work they built back to
about 7000 people today. Rapa Nui has been seen by some to be the belly button of the
earth and is a great example of our human race.
We are currently destroying our planet- just like they did so many years ago, but it is not
too late to change and restore our land to the way God intended it to be. We need to
start being mindful of every consumer choice we make and turn back to our ancestors
to learn from their mistakes and successes. It is not a simple task, but it is something that
we can do together.
There are 1-2 planes of 300-600 tourists a day who visit Rapa Nui. Most of them are
there to see the MOai and have no idea of how much more the island and its people
have to offer. Toki music school is a hidden gem and an incredible model of how to
build a better more sustainable future.
The day after the swim we were invited to a local fish braai by Tavu, Karina and Konui,
we headed to the one and only sandy beach on the island. We set up camp under the
trees with a large braai covered in fresh fish, sweet potatoes, taro root and plantains
and were treated to a feast- No cutlery, no crockery, just our hands and banana leaves
for plates. Bones were thrown into the fire- the way we should all be eating. Batman
(Tavu’s cousin) and Mehari (Tavu’s daughter) broke out into a spontaneous song playing
the guitar and ukulele together for the first time. It was a beautiful day out with
beautiful people.
Horses, cows and dogs roam free on the island. There are no traffic lights, fruit trees are
in abundance and we would pick guavas at our leisure whenever we were hungry.
There is a strong reliance in the land and ocean to provide food for the locals as well as
a deep spiritual connection.
I have no doubt that Gods hand was on every detail of this swim and the build up to it.
Showing us a rainbow the day before the swim at the blessing ceremony and 1 the day
we left the island. The welcome and acceptance form the local people, the unity of
everyone despite such unique personalities and the near perfect swim conditions, are
all undeniable stamps of God’s hand at work.
I could totally live island life. The simplicity, dependence on the land and delicious diet
plus general respect for nature is inspiring. The increased tourism is a boost for the
economy but also brings with it problems of its own as demand for western food and
drink starts to impact the island vibe and natural way of living.
With our growing consumerism globalisation and tourism in the western world, we have
lost the slow pace, hard working lifestyle of the past. Rapa Nuin’s could teach us a thing
or two about authentic sustainable living, community and connection.
I walk away from this experience richer than before, not due to the accomplishment of
a world record, but because of deep connections with incredibly generous people.
Satisfied with an unbelievable team effort to create a world record for a swim against
plastic that not only changed my life, but I think meant so much to the local community
as well.

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