In 2014, when he was just 14, Thabiso Molefi ran away from home and hitchhiked from the Free State to Cape Town.
When he arrived he couldn’t swim but, reports GroundUp, just five years later he has completed the 7.5km open water swim from Robben Island to Big Bay – and that on his first attempt.
From street child to open water athlete. Thabiso Molefi ran away from home at 14. Five years later he swam from Robben Island to Blouberg.— Ashraf Hendricks (@AshrafRSA) January 13, 2020
My story for @GroundUp_News – https://t.co/SwvIt8wAD1 pic.twitter.com/MJxhvulogM
According to GroundUp, Molefi left his home in search of a better life. For two weeks, upon his arrival in Cape Town, he was homeless before being taken in by the Homestead Project for Street Children. It is here where he was introduced to swimming and joined the Homestead’s swimming programme.
“I forget about everything and I focus on where I am going”Thabiso Molefi
Molefi trained three to four times a week for the open water swim from Robben Island. He would use a tidal pool and the public swimming pool in Long Street to put in two to three kilometres every day.
Great article from @outdoor_swimmer – Former homeless boy and refugee, Thabiso Molefi, a 19-year old from Cape Town, South Africa, has completed the challenging open-water crossing from Robben Island to Big Bay on his first attempt.— SwimWild (@SwimWildUK) January 14, 2020
On January 5, he completed the swim from Robben Island to Big Bay in three hours and four minutes, braving water that was only about 13°C.