This relatively new blog series “Sharing your story” is really taking shape nicely now into it’s 3rd edition. As I share my story on this blog I also find other amazingly inspiring stories which really need to be shared too. I am glad to have the chance to inspire others with this addition and shed light on the amazing people around us.
I met Olivia Taylor a number of years ago and have been blown away by her conservation efforts. With yesterday being World Ocean Day I am really happy to get to interview this dynamic young women about the Four Elements Ocean Challenge.
The scary thing is Olivia is only 18 years old and has achieved so much despite her age. Her passion for the ocean and it’s conservation is infectious, a great example for us, young or old.
Check out our interview:
Barry – Hi Olivia. Well done on your hard work on ocean conservation and thanks for allowing me to “share you story”. Where did your passion for the ocean start?
Olivia – Thanks Barry! My passion for the ocean started at a young age when my dad used to push me onto small waves on his surfboard. I think a definite turning point in my love for the ocean came when I was given the opportunity to learn to freedive. I attended a course by Hanli Prinsloo and Sara Campbell which helped me to overcome my fear of water and fostered my deep appreciation and respect for the oceans.
Barry – I met you on a shark dive a number of years ago, how were you introduced to these amazing creatures?
Olivia – I was introduced to my first sharks on a scuba dive at Aliwal Shoal and was overwhelmed by their curiosity and ease with which they move through the water. Although I enjoyed scuba diving with them I dreamt of freediving with them and finally had that opportunity accompanying Julie Andersen, founder of SharkAngels.org, on a dive trip where I had my first interaction with a tiger shark. It was incredible being in the presence of such powerful and feared creatures but, I only felt adoration.
Barry – What made you start “Four Elements Conservation”?
Olivia – I conceptualised Four Elements Conservation NPC after being dissatisfied with the apathy of lacklustre teens and realising that some environmental organisations I had come across were not living up to their public statements. With the help of my dad, Mark, and two of my directors John McCarthy and Amaresh Chetty Four Elements is now a registered company that has been acknowledged with both national and international awards.
Barry – One of the things that has really grown is the Four Element Conservation NPC Ocean Challenge after an awesome in it’s second year. Tell us about the race and how things went in the 2015 event.
Olivia – Wow, it has been an incredible journey. Last year the event started small with only 16 incredibly passionate swimmers and grew this year to 116 swimmers! The race day saw some tricky conditions really living up to its name “Ocean Challenge”. There were strong currents on the second leg but all of the dedicated swimmers completed the race! This year we saw an increase of swimmers travelling into Durban from all over the country to compete. I was stunned by the support and positive feedback about the swim was and really excited when chatting to swimmers who share my passion for the environment. I feel that the swim allowed people to engage with the environment in an especially intimate way. The swim achieved its goal in raising funding for a new venture that Four Elements is running, the Four Elements Environmental Camp. This camp is a four day scholarship adventure taking place in December where successful applicants (kids between1 0 and 18 years old) will learn essential business skills to start their own environmental initiatives as well as experiencing some really cool wildlife engagement activities. For example; swimming with sharks, bushwalks and horse riding on the beach. The applications for the camp will open on 8 June, World Oceans Day.
Barry – I see Four Elements is a NGO, what are your dreams for this awesome conservation initiative?
Olivia – Four Elements was initially a vessel through which I could voice my concerns for the environment and do legitimate fundraising but it has been evolving steadily and I am really excited about its approaching future! The new aims and direction are towards developing passionate youths who want to become positive environmental change makers. I would like Four Elements to serve as a candle who lights a thousand other candles, who inspires another thousand environmental organisations, by supporting kids in teaching them the power of their voices and that they can make a difference. These kids will be confidant, self-sufficient, green entrepreneurs. Through education I believe that Four Elements will develop future leaders who will hold the environment in the highest esteem.
Since 2003 I have had an awesome partnership with Varsity College, who for many years have believed in more than educating their students, but preparing them for the work place.
This ethos has rubbed off into a number of other elements of what they do. Sports Life, which is their healthy lifestyle balanced sporting program at all their campuses around the country, sponsors a number of students as, Sport Life Club Captains. Their roles are twofold: 1. managing their sporting clubs on campus and 2. Act as a VC brand ambassador in their respective sporting discipline.
For most 18-year-old students entering Varsity College life, they have little experience with sponsors and being a brand ambassador. Instead of letting them stumble their way through the year, Varsity College asked me to help put together a program to help prepare these students for their roles on campus and within the wider sporting community.
It was a privilege to work with Varsity College on this awesome project and even more special to be able to pass on some of the lessons I have learnt over the years under their support.
We put together a 3-week program with the following topics for mainly Surfski, Canoeing, MTB and Surfing athletes.
Week 1 – What is a brand ambassador? What is return on investment? How to manage expectation? How to build a relationship with a sponsor?
Week 2 – Goal Setting for personal sport and for the sports club
Week 3 – Marketing, branding, social media and reporting
It was great so see how interactive the sessions were with students giving some awesome ideas and feedback.
The result of the sessions has been profound for those involved and it is great to see how well the athlete are doing in growing the sport on campus as well as in their
There are a thousand examples of this that I can go through but there are really too many for this blog. Just a glance down the Sport Life twitter handle will show what sort of impact these students are making on and off campus, check it out here https://twitter.com/VCSportsLife
The thing I love the most, is that Varsity College are really going above and beyond to support their athletes in the classroom and in their sporting endeavours. This balance is key to success and the Sports Life ethos of VC certainly is alive and well.
I hope to do another blog on these awesome students later in the year as they lead into the National Inter Varsity Canoeing Champs on the Fish River in October.
For more information on Varsity College Check out their links below
In many ways my words in this blog could never do justice to the awesome experience of the Lettie Love Fun Valley Run. There are just too many emotions over the days leading up and on the 11 hours it took to get from PMB to Durban. I hope this gets across a simple message though, something can be done buy few to help many.
Lets start from the beginning. I have some crazy friends who for the last coupe of year have, on the day before the iconic Comrades have run up or down the Umgeni Valley between PMB and Durban for around 100km, had a couple hours rest and then run the 80 something of Km of the Comrades. I like many said why?
This small group of crazy people have done immense amount of great things with the money and awareness raised to fight cancer under the Lettie Love Fund.
Their numbers have grown over the years and with the growth came the addition of the multisport element this year. I could never run that far so this new format opened the door for me to go along and have some fun with an epic group of people and lend my helping hand in raising the money they need to buy their first car in a project to help transport cancer patients to and from treatments.
I have to be honest I was kakking myself in the days leading up to the challenge. The briefing was great fun but there was little info on what we were to expect. My normal events on the surfski front are 1 to 3 hours and I expected to take 12 hours to do the course. The long stuff has never been a talent of mine and the challenge was not going to be a walk in the park. I haven’t been on the bike much so I knew it was going to hurt.
The day kicked of with a 10km run. Starting before sun up in the valley of a thousand hills was a treat. The valley in the pre dawn light was spectacular, cresting some of the hills with the sun coming up was just special. The group was still half a sleep and other than the odd wise chirp, laughter and giggles, it was a great time to take in why we were all there.
The Lettie Love Fun moto is, to live life to the fullest and appreciate our Health, Vitality and Mobility. There is no better way to do that than on an adventure.
The run went quicker than expected and at a very responsible pace. Chowing down on my GU stash while putting on my cleats at transition no 1 my confidence in reaching Durban was at an all time high, all due to the vibe within the amazing group of people on the challenge.
The ride to the dam was epic. Some amazing scenery with great chats the whole way in the group. I managed to do a little running repair on a cleat on the route, which was a lifesaver. MTB is really not my thing and with not spending much time on the bike my set up was not the best causing my knees to get really sore at times. A couple adjustment to the seat height helped but the niggle lingered for a lot of the ride.
Getting to the dam was a blessing, I really needed to give my pins a rest and the Inanda Dam didn’t disappoint. It was super glassy and the water refreshing in the mid day heat.
A lot of the last ride is now a blur of highs. We caught the runners with a couple Km to go and to see them finish was awesome. They really are rock start doing the whole distance of 103km in 17 hours. Never mind having to run the Comrades the next day for a couple of them.
The whole effort helped raise a lot of money toward the first Lettie Love Fund Car but this is just the start. If you would like to help donate to this awesome cause you can follow the following link:
I also put together a little video from the day. Enjoy
I have been involved in some small way with raising money and awareness for cancer since the Coast 2 Coast 4 Cansa in 2010. In more recent years I have given support to Lettie Paddle though their race in the Marine Surfski Series and I hope to always lend a helping hand to the fight against cancer.
A group of friends have really done some really crazy things over the years and this time they are up to no good, to do a lot of good for the Lettie Love Fund. They will be running from PMB to Durban, off-road, through the valley of a thousand hills taking in 110km of the KZN bush.
Now my running isn’t good enough to do that but a number of people are joining them to do the route on MTB’s and canoes which I plan on joining in on. The whole idea is that we help raise enough money to buy a car to transport patients to and from treatments. A great cause I am making a donation to as well as going along on the day (this Saturday) to have some fun with the team.
Please help sport this awesome cause by making a donation – Here
I find inspiring stories on a daily basis, that I think will inspire you too, so I started this little section on my blog not just to share my story, but yours as well.
Iain Campbell – Following a Dream
I have know Iain since he was a tiny grom running around at lifesaving and riding north beach. The little kid has grown up into a full blow freak on a bodyboard and is making a name for himself all over the world.
People are taking serious notice since he put out this amazing clip of his trip to Hawaii over the winter. Watch and enjoy.
There is more to this kid than big waves and epic boosts. I have dealt with many athletes over the last 10 years and there aren’t many that fly under the radar as much as Iain and get the job done with proper passion. Many have big dreams but rarely go after them. Iain is chasing that dream. I got a chance to interview him about following a dream.
B.L. – Where did it start?
I.C – It all started back when I was in primary school and was taken into the water by a family friend. It was then that I moved into North Beach and started to bodyboard with Billy Thiel through the DPHS bodyboarding lessons.
B.L – What was your first trip to Hawaii Like being a dream come true?
I.C – My first Hawaii trip was insane. It was everything that I was to expect and definitely a dream come true for me. I was able to meet some of the biggest hero’s that I had looked up to my entire life and get some of the best waves of my life. I arrived on the island not knowing what to expect and I was able to come out of the season with the cover of Movement Mag (a top international magazine). What more could I ask for.
B.L – How long have you been travelling through your sport and what have your learnt?
I.C – I have been traveling for the last 3 years. I really have learnt a lot about myself. I have learnt that I love being by myself and I am able to learn a lot from other people and meet some amazing people. These people have changed my life and will continue to be there for me through good and bad times. It is amazing how you are able to progress in your sport when you are constantly trying to ride new waves and get better. I am able to ride some of the worlds best waves and travel to unreal destinations all through my sport. What could be better?
B.L – You blew up in Hawaii this year, what was the difference?
I.C – Well it’s hard to say but I must say that having Billy Thiel there helping to prepare meals, drive me and film my riding really helped me progress. I always wanted this season to show myself that I am able to progress in the sport and produce a clip that people can watch and be really excited about. And I feel like this is something that I achieved. I really feel like having someone there to film you and show you what you are doing right and wrong is the way forward right now. I have never had this before and working with Billy aloud me to be able to watch footage and see where I am going wrong while also adjusting my riding.
B.L – What does living a dream mean to you?
I.C – Living a dream to me means doing something you love doing and getting enough money to get by at the end of the day. It’s not about earning money to me but at the end of the day, bills need to get paid and food needs to be out on the table. I have to say a big thanks to those who helping me achieve that, Thiel Board Co, Just Bodyboarding, Sun Zapper South Africa, Red Bull South Africa
When I started this blog, many years ago now, the goal was to share my story. I hoped to have a positive impact in sharing and it has been a lot of fun interacting with tons of people along the way.
If you follow me on Twitter you will know I went to Story Sessions 13 last week and since been inspired by many stories online and within friends. I realized I want to share not just my story, but rather all the things that inspire me.
So this is the first post of a blog series on sharing stories and I hope to shed the light on some of the awesome stuff Story Sessions is doing as well as other stories that gets my blood going.
Story Sessions 13 featured adventurer, Davey du Plessis
If you haven’t head of Davey du Plessis then I suggest you check him out. He is very young for an adventurer but already see’s purpose in his expeditions, highlighting causes and living out those in his every day life.
Some pics of the evening supplied by Story Sessions , with Davey and the men behind story sessions, Travis Gale and Don Muller.
Here are some videos on Davey’s expeditions and his story!
This is my thinking space, going 20km/h on a swell in the ocean, it gives me the clearest of perspective. Everything is just more simple, clear and precise! On Monday I had a afternoon meeting and knew I wasn’t able to train so I moved stuff around to do a downwind over lunch in some nice wind.
The clarity of mind in the ocean got me thinking.
2014 has been a very busy year of racing, coaching, travelling and running races. I love the challenge of doing difference things every day and juggling portfolio’s which all have their own sets of deadlines. Every now and again I realise, I also need come up for air and have a look around.
I have found the work load and chaos of life some times distracts me and refocus now and again is always a win.
I want to challenge myself to do two think in the last 6 weeks of the year.
- Make time to do the thinks that make me tick, the things I love, the things I want to be doing every day.
- Make sure I appreciate them when I am at play, never take life for granted.
I think these two things can be a applied to anyone, anywhere and anytime, so I thought it would be cool to challenge you to do the same and we can keep each other accountable.
Doing something that makes you tick is not always as easy as it sounds, work and family life can drain the time and energy to make these things happen daily so you need to make time. If it just waking up 20min earlier for a jog round the block to kick off some running you really enjoy, it’s worth the effort.
For this means more downwind’s, here is a clip from Monday, who wouldn’t want to make time for this?
The second part is to make sure you and I are both making the most of it. Simply post about what you have been up to with the #maketimetolive and I will go through them every week and share some of them on the blog too keep us motivated.
NOW GO LIVE!
I have been involved with development paddling in Durban for a long time after I Started the first every development program for surfski paddling in the country. The program has outgrown me and needs a lot more than one set of hands to run. The 5 I started with have gone on the be very good paddlers, most of which will be coming to the Pete Marlin in East London this weekend.
The program is run now by the Marine Surf Lifesaving/Canoe Club with my dad, Mark Lewin as the main man setting up most of the logistics of getting the guys to races. Surfskischool in Durban (me) still helps a little. The program is open to all the clubs in Durban and now hosts paddlers from the North Coast, Inanda, Chestville and the South Coast.
The program have seen a number of paddlers through it’s set up go on to take part in the surfski races in Durban. Mark Lewin has seen a opportunity to get a new crop of paddlers into the sport of late. With the backing the project has from KNCU and the Department of Sport and Recreation there has been a big drive to introduce new paddlers in an 8 week intro program.
I am so glad to see the program so well managed and still growing thanks to the effort of Marine and Mark Lewin.
I look forward to seeing a lot of these new paddlers taking part in the Varsity College FNB Surfski Series in early 2015
Dennis Walthew took some awesome pictures of the squad training last weekend.
Surfski paddling is a challenging sport, part of what we love about paddling is pushing what we do weather it be going downwind or doing a long training session, there is simply too much safety stuff slipping through the system with paddlers not having the right kit.
Know what you getting yourself into before you head out into the sea and take the right safety gear with you. Even better know how to use it as it may just save your life.
Please watch this video from the NSRI and Dawid Mocke for a little more education.
Ps, there have been 3 rescues of surfski paddlers in the last couple of weeks, this is a every day reality for every surfski paddler and people not pulling the line will put our whole sport and risk, dont let your friends paddle without the right kit. Lets make sure we are all safe!
This last week, on my way for a paddle I bumped into a Varsity College Sports Life session on progress so took some photos to share with you along with some of the programs success.
But lets start at the beginning. I spent quite some time at Varsity College as a student, maybe more than required due to my sporting calendar overpowering my studies at times. VC luckily were very understanding and supportive of the benefits of sport.
The Varsity College back then, was not quite what you see today, they have grown and evolved, incorporating sport into the campuses with their ‘Sports Life’ program. It may look a little different but the mindset or ethos that VC has embodied has been the same in preparing a well-rounded individual for the real world.
I bumped into a friend Shaun Austin who was one of the first Sport Life students, when the program was started. Shaun has come through the ranks just like I did but more in the structure of today and he had so many positive points I really connected with. Her are some of the key things we shared about our experience with Varsity College and their Sports Life Program.
• Studying Opportunity
Varsity College certainly opened doors for me, I would never have been able to continue studying into post grad if they were not supporting me. Shaun said the same. It allows people who would not have been able to study that opportunity or those that could have the backing to go further.
• Sporting Opportunity
The sporting structures at VC don’t just give support academically. Each sport life student is assisted with kit, money to cover entry fee’s and travel as well as advice on marketing tools to build a career from the sport.
• Team Work
The value of being in a team at VC was awesome. I remember racing down the Fish side by side with Clint Pretorius to a 2nd and 3rd place, bringing home big points for VC in the national intervarsity competition. The team also worked together in running the club on campus building valuable people skills.
• Part Time Work
I worked my way through Varsity College doing part time jobs from coaching to even starting my own little businesses to bring in some cash to travel or support my paddling. This certainly helped in building market related awereness of the work place. Something VC are still strong on today.
The people I have met through sport have become a group of friends, clients and sponsors. A valuable lesson to always nurture quality relationships in life.
Shaun today has finished his honors in Marketing and moved into a good company. He believes that he wouldn’t be where he is now without the support of VC over the years. I feel the same and am really excited more young paddlers are getting the same opportunities.
If you want to find out more about the sports life program check out http://www.varsitycollege.co.za/sport.aspx
Or book an interview with Jody Taylor at the Durban North Campus on 0315732038