On 9 January 2014, Rochè Schoeman and his support team left George heading for the source of the Orange River with one goal in mind. To swim from the source of the Orange river all the way to the sea only with the aid of his riverboard. With no support team after his departure on 12 January he took on the rough waters and mountains of Lesotho starting at over 3000m above sea level!
Swimming most days from around 9 in the morning till sundown Rochè has to carry all his food, gear and clothing with him, all in a small backpack on his back. Each item of gear has been carefully selected over the past year to make sure its the lightest and most durable item and that it will not fail him on his trip. Rochè who has been working the past few years as a freelance paramedic for ER24 and who has been a guide on the Orange river and all over the world his entire life, felt like he needed to do something bigger and better than he has ever done before and something that nobody else has done before.
He has now done about 1050km and is currently in Vanderkloof after swimming the last 7 days from the upper part of the Vanderkloof dam to the dam wall. This, shortly after having swam about 10 days across the Gariep dam. After having a chat to him one can see he is having the time of his life and how he appreciates every second of his trip despite constant thunderstorms and a buffalo paying him a visit at 3am in the morning by waking him up and staring him in the face about 5 meters from his tent while camping at the Gariep Dam! A person really starts to realize how grateful you should be when you spend 2 months with only a few items with you and nobody near you to help you should you get injured. Any town he needed to visit for food meant hiking all the way to the town.
Currently the goal is to reach the sea by the end of May which would not only make it the first full descent by a single person swimming from the source to the sea on the Orange river but also the fastest trip of similar conditions.
As part of this adventure Rochè is also raising funds for a school very close to his heart. Based in George, Up With Down’s which was established in 1998 with 4 children and one teacher is a school aimed in aiding down syndrome children. There are now over 30 children in the school and they also aim to open an adult home to help the children once they leave school. For more info about Up With Down’s or to help them in any way possible please visit their website!
Rochè has a great support team which is helping him make this trip possible. Kempston Motors in George as the official sponsor has provided a Isuzu double cab as well as a Chevrolet Trailblazer for transport to and from George and between the rest points on the trip and has followed and supported the whole trip, also meeting Rochè this weekend at the Vanderkloof Dam at Rhino Manor Lodge.
The riverboard has been supplied by Fluid Kayaks in George and after having problems with the first board (after a few hundred kilometers of constant use in rough waters and hiking) they quickly sorted it out and replaced the board for him. Aquabionics helped to import some of the most advanced flippers all the way from Canada for this trip to help a bit when the flow of the river is getting a bit too slow. Other sponsors which also helped was Sportcenter, Cape Union Mart, Spar and Digifusion all based in George.
Rochè will be resting in Vanderkloof and is planning to depart again from the Vanderkloof dam wall on Monday, 10 March 2014.
We will keep you posted on this website of his progress but you can also follow him on Facebook by visiting the project’s page: www.facebook.com/BIGGERthanUsProject
Also watch this space for a lot more photos and some videos taken during his trip, all coming soon!