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Saanich Inlet swim a plea for the ocean

Aug 04 2012
Renate Herberger starts her swim along Saanich Inlet last August. She is repeating the 19-kilometre effort on Sunday. 

Renate Herberger starts her swim along Saanich Inlet last August. She is repeating the 19-kilometre effort on Sunday.

Photograph by: Arnold Lim , timescolonist.com (August 2012)

Renate Herberger feels a special connection with the water whenever she does a long-distance swim.

Next up for the 56-year-old North Saanich resident is a Sunday swim covering 19 kilometres of Saanich Inlet, from Brentwood Bay to Deep Cove. It marks the second year in a row she has taken on an inlet swim, and once again her goal is to raise awareness of the need to protect the marine environment.

"The main purpose of the swim is to plead on behalf of the ocean," she said Friday.

That includes a stand against the proposed Enbridge oil pipeline and tanker traffic on the coast.

"The swim is in conjunction with Dogwood Initiative and their no-tankers campaign," Herberger said.

Two people from the Dogwood Initiative will be paddling alongside her in support, and others are welcome to join in with their kayaks and other nonmotorized craft.

She said the effort is being dedicated to the memory of her son, Silvan, who died earlier this year.

Long-distance swimming has become a passion for Herberger, as has sharing her experiences with youth.

"Beginning in 2007, I have now altogether swum a sum total of just over 5,000 kilometres in longhaul swims."

She said she has enjoyed swimming most of her life.

"Swimming has been my personal refuge since a very young age."

Her biggest swims have been along the coastline of Costa Rica. She has also swum off the Baja Peninsula and gone around the island of Barbados.

As much as possible, Herberger has turned her swimming into an educational tool.

"I've been in schools and spoken to over 14,000 young people. That's the main agenda, education."

Herberger's Sunday swim starts at 10 a.m. from Pacifica Paddle Sports, next to the Brentwood Bay Ferry Terminal at the foot of Verdier Avenue.

She expects to finish between 6 and 8 p.m. at Chalet Beach, and is prepared for whatever tides and currents the inlet throws at her.

"It won't all necessarily be favourable to me, but it won't stop me either."

On the web: costaricamermaid.net

jwbell@timescolonist.com

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