SA swimmer dives in to Swim Against Plastic

March 13 2019 – South African endurance swimmer, Sarah Ferguson, will attempt to become the first person ever to swim the entire perimeter of Easter Island, possibly setting a new world record. 

After assessing conditions and weather, Sarah Ferguson will begin Swim Against Plastic today, March 13, around the Easter Island perimeter. The team is currently out on boat scouting the course. While there is a possibility they find something that changes plans, everything otherwise looks good for today.  

Despite very risky conditions, the Breathe Conservation founder, Plastic Oceans International Ambassador and retired South African national swimmer, will make this journey because of her commitment to raising awareness about plastic pollution.

Sarah Ferguson’s Swim Against Plastic is a journey around Easter Island’s perimeter that will cover more than 40 miles (65 kilometers) through cold water and dangerous currents. The swim is estimated to take up to 24 hours to complete. Despite very risky conditions, Sarah is making this journey because of her commitment to raise awareness to help end plastic pollution. Risks include: 

●      Chafing from friction between skin and bathing suit during the approximately 24-hour swim. 

●      Eating every 30 minutes, as food in a container is thrown into the water to access and consume, all while continuing to swim without stopping. 

●      Getting caught in currents that prevent progress to advance distance, increase journey length and require additional physical output. 

●      Hypothermia.

●      Jellyfish, and specifically the Portuguese man o’ war

●      Saltwater exposure.

●      Sharks.

●      Sunburn.

Sarah has been and continues to train extensively in preparation for Swim Against Plastic: Easter Island. She arrived on the island March 11 from South Africa. 

 “This is a huge challenge, but my passion for ocean protection and rehabilitation is a strong driving force that fuels this dream,” said South African endurance swimmer Sarah Ferguson, founder of Breathe Conservation and Ambassador for Plastic Oceans International. “It is our responsibility to protect the ocean, and I’m proud to partner with Plastic Oceans International on this campaign to fight the problem of plastic pollution.”
Plastic Oceans International and Breathe Conservation, two global nonprofit organizations dedicated to solving the plastic pollution problem, today announced more details and new resources for Swim Against Plastic, a global campaign to help end plastic pollution, launching soon on Easter Island.
The goal is to encourage people to rethink their habits toward single-use, or throwaway plastic, and empower them to change and become part of the solution. 

Swim Against Plastic: Easter Island will explore how local plastic pollution is impacted on a micro level—by exponentially growing tourism, increased population, commercial fishing, and waste management—while providing a model to translate to a macro level for global application. 

Swim Against Plastic: Easter Island includes: 

1.   South African endurance swimmer, Sarah Ferguson, will attempt to become the first person ever to swim the entire perimeter of Easter Island, possibly setting a new world record.  

 2.     Education forums with residents will address the island’s plastic pollution. The Easter Island premiere of Eating up Easter, a documentary film produced and directed by island native, Sergio Mata’u Rapu, will screen March 15, 7:30 p.m. at Toki Rapa Nui during a free community event: Eating Up Easter Film Screening

3.     Beach cleanups are being organized locally to restore, protect, and preserve Easter Island’s fragile environment from severe plastic pollution. Microplastics samples will be collected and later analyzed by Arizona State University. The first scheduled cleanup is March 16

Easter Island is a Chilean territory, located in the South Pacific Ocean between Chile and New Zealand. It is considered the most remote inhabited island on the planet, more than 2,000 miles from the Chilean coast, with the nearest island over 1,200 miles away. 

The waters surrounding the island contain one of the highest concentrations of microplastics in the Pacific Ocean, most of which originate from sources thousands of miles away. Microplastics and larger pieces of plastic to the island from the South Pacific Gyre.

An additional 20 tons of trash is produced daily on Easter Island, which has prevalent waste management issues, especially related to the exponentially growing tourism industry and increasing population. 

Chile recently implemented new rules to limit access and tourism on Easter Island to protect the culture and environment. Rapa Nui, the island’s indigenous name, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is well known for the unique cultural phenomenon of shrines enormous stone figures, called moai, built between the 10th and 16th centuries by the society of Polynesian origin that settled on the island circa 300 A.D.

“The planet needs leaders to draw attention to the serious global plastic pollution problem worldwide—threatening the ocean, our food sources and the environment—to understand the dangers of and change how we think about and use plastic,” said Julie Andersen, Global Executive Director, Plastic Oceans International. “By showing the world that our most valued and remote locations are not immune to plastic pollution, our goal is to inspire people to find solutions and eliminate use of single-use plastics that attribute to the problem.” 

The premiere of Eating up Easter—a documentary film produced and directed by island native, Sergio Mata’u Rapu—will be screened as part of Swim Against Plastic March 15, 7:30 p.m. at Toki Rapa Nui during a free community event. 

In a cinematic letter to his son, native Rapanui (Easter Island) filmmaker, Sergio Mata’u Rapu, explores the modern dilemma of their people who risk losing everything to the globalizing effects of tourism. The film follows four islanders, descendants of the ancient statue builders, who are working to tackle the consequences of their rapidly developing home. Mama Piru leads recycling efforts to reduce trash, Mahani and Enrique use music to reunite their divided community, and Sergio tries to understand the motivations of his father who embraces the advantages of building new businesses. These stories intertwine to reveal the complexities of development and the contradictions within us all as we are faced with hard choices about our planet’s future. Learn more about Eating Up Easter at

 People encouraged to join Swim Against Plastic to get informed, inspired and make changes to end plastic pollution. Follow the campaign and swim progress using #SwimAgainstPlastic. Learn more at

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