Swimmers brave icy water to celebrate the Winter Solstice

The cold weather didn't dampen the spirits of the rescue swimmers from the NSRI (National Sea Rescue Institute) Station 27 Gauteng who took to the ice-cold Victoria Lake for the annual Winter Solstice Swim, on Wednesday.

Nine rescue swimmers from NSRI (National Sea Rescue Institute) Station 27 Gauteng recently took to the icy waters of Victoria Lake in the annual Winter Solstice Swim.

They were joined by Buddy, the NSRI’s rescue dog, as well as a member of the public.

The event takes place at all NSRI stations throughout the country on June 21 (longest night of the year).

Participants all completed the 250m swim in high spirits.

The water was a chilly 11.5 degrees Celsius.

After the swim, the member of the public took the plunge and signed up to the NSRI and is currently undergoing the training programme.

NSRI is a voluntary organisation with NSRI stations providing emergency assistance at sea rescue bases around the coast and at a number of inland stations.

There are inland NSRI bases at the Vaal Dam, Hartbeespoort Dam, Witbank, Theewaterskloof and the NSRI Station 27 Gauteng, based at Victoria Lake.

NSRI Station 27 Gauteng rescue crew are on standby 24/7 to respond to emergencies.

Station Commander Gerhard Potgieter said, “Our rescue crew all have day jobs and families – but they put their lives on hold to divert to a rescue scene and help the community when there is a need.

“Much of our time is spent on training and we recently completed a specialised Swift Water Rescue course.

“Last year, Station 27 assisted in the search for a missing Diepsloot girl who was, tragically, swept away by the Jukskei River.

“We also went to assist people stranded and trapped in their homes during floods in Heidelberg, late last year.

Most of these were retired people who needed to be evacuated.

“Another tragedy we were involved with was the flooding at Kwaggafontein where a firefighter and three members of the community lost their lives.”

With water safety top of mind, Station 27, from time to time, provides water safety at rowing events – many of them school events.

“Our mission this year is to raise funds to fund a 4×4 customised rescue vehicle, which will allow us to tow the NSRI rescue boat and the NSRI rescue jetski to incidents.

“At present we have to respond using our private vehicles,” said Potgieter.

To contact the NSRI Station 27, call Potgieter on 083 304 1292 or get in touch by sending an email to gerhard.potgieter@cummins.com.

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