A 17-year old American national, Kaitlin Harthoorn, and a 46 year-old Dutch national, Milko van Gool, are attempting to swim across Lake Malawi in a bid to beat a record set by Abigail Brown of 9hrs, 45 minutes, 35 seconds in May 2010.
The two, while their main objective is to simply achieve the crossing safe and sound, are swimming the lake’s narrowest point of approximately 24 kilometres from Cape Ngombo to Senga Bay, in Salima District. They will end their feat at Hotel Livingstonia.
A student at the African Bible College Christian Academy in Lilongwe, the teenager is a competitive swimmer for ABC’s school team and the Malawi national team. She intends to raise funds for the Adziwa Orphan Care project in Kauma Village, outside Lilongwe.
The orphanage was set up in 2007, as a partnership of churches built 23 homes and a Christian Primary School with 500 students in Kauma village. The Adziwa Initiative also sponsors families to take care of orphans. All sponsorship money raised by Kaitlin will go towards providing much needed resources for the children and families under the care of the Adziwa Initiative.
Meanwhile van Gool is a Dutch national and a European Union diplomat currently posted in Malawi. A competitive swimmer in his early youth, he started participating in marathon swims at the age of 43. He swam the English Channel in July 2011.
The two, who are being escorted each by a support boat and crew, started at dawn and hope to set foot on the beach in the early afternoon of Saturday, today.
“Their attempt was preceded by three earlier successful crossings, by Lewis Pugh and Otto Thaning in January 1992, and by Abigail Brown, the first female to swim the Lake, in May 2010. If successful, Kaitlin will be the youngest person ever to cross Lake Malawi, and indeed any of the Great Lakes in Africa,” said communication from van Gool.
The swimmers have been conducted countess training for the feat at the African Bible College pool in Lilongwe.