“I asked my students to design a presentation which aimed to persuade me to raise money for their chosen charity through ocean swimming,” explains teacher, Tom Pembroke.
“I was overwhelmed and completely humbled by the incredible effort they displayed in preparing their presentations. But there were two charities that stood out and both had extremely close personal stories for my students,” said Tom.
The two charities chosen were Kiss Goodbye to MS and The Kids’ Cancer Project, the latter chosen as a student in the class had survived childhood cancer and because one students’ little brother is currently battling neuroblastoma.
Tom with student Luke with little brother Nicholas and parents.
Tom, 27 years old from Sydney is the first Australian to complete two ocean swims within a week as part of the Oceans’ Seven challenge. “Since 2013 it has been my goal to complete the Oceans Seven. I have previously swum the English Channel in 2013 and the North Channel in 2015, each time raising awareness and money for causes very close to my heart,” said Tom.
These swims were no different, as a teacher at St Pius X College Chatswood, Tom likes to encourage his students to get involved in their larger communities, to instill in them that no matter what their talents are they can make a positive contribution.
On 22 June, Tom took on the Molokai Channel, swimming 44Km in 16 and half hours, braving huge swells, jelly fish and unbeknownst to him a small shark! Fewer than 40 people have successfully completed this swim.
Backing up from the Molokai Channel swim Tom then travelled to Catalina Island and on 28 June, he took to the water again to swim to California. While this swim is a little shorter, the water is colder and the area is known for Great White sharks.
“Both swims were incredibly challenging, and I almost called it quits on the Molokai Channel, but thinking about what my students’ and their families had been through - I thought, I have to keep going.”
Tom’s efforts have raised over $20,000 for both charities, which is truly inspiring.
Information on Ocean’s Seven
The Ocean's Seven challenge consists of seven long-distance open-water swims, and is considered the marathon swimming equivalent of the Seven Summits mountaineering challenge.
It includes the:
- North Channel between Great Britain and Ireland (33.7Km),
- The Cook Strait between the North and South Islands of New Zealand (26Km),
- The Molokai Channel between the Hawaiian Islands of Molokai and Oahu (41.8Km),
- The English Channel between England and France (34Km),
- The Catalina Channel between Santa Catalina Island and California (33.7Km),
- The Tsugaru Strait between Japanese Islands of Honshu and Hokkaido (19.5Km),
- The Strait of Gibraltar between Spain and Morocco (14.4Km)