FACING YOUR FEARS

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Steve Honeysett

Each of us has had to face up to our fears in one way or another, some life threatening, others, just day to day issues.

This brings me to another Seaweed Steve tale that revolves around the great cyclone, Domoina, of January 1984.

I was working as a lifeguard on Durban beaches at the time and it was a daily routine to attend one of the many different training missions that were held.

Each day the Chief Lifeguard would set a training programme which generally was some form of swimming training, paddling or running, but on this day the 29th January 1984, two days before Domoina hit, would be a day that I faced my worst fear – that of having to swim out through giant waves generated by an approaching cyclone  .

The mission for the day was a surf swim from the old South Beach pier along the beach front and finishing at North Beach, a swim of about 2 km.

Driving in to work that morning I noticed the size of the waves breaking off the Umgeni River and thought to myself that today was going to be a busy day for the lifeguards on all the beaches. The thought of a training mission was far from my mind.

I was rostered to work that day on South Beach and, having set up swimming areas, the word came over the radio that training for the day would be the South to North swim as we called it, and groups of 8 we would take turns at different times to do the swim.

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So I thought I would be clever and volunteer for the last swim, thinking that the Chief would surely cancel the last few as the waves were getting bigger and bigger as the day progressed.

I sat studying the surf throughout the day and I thought that it was going to be impossible to swim out by the afternoon, so I resigned myself to the fact that the swim would not happen.

At 14h30 my world was turned upside down. It was my turn and I could not believe we were going on with the swim. By now, the waves were breaking over the old West Street pier and the surf had become dangerous.

I could not back out as this would be regarded as mutiny, but I remembered that throughout the day there was a sign of an opening between swells that were

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