The St Andrew’s College and DSG Class of 1980
The story begins in July 2022 when a very successful combined reunion of the classes of 1980, 1981 and 1982 took place in Grahamstown/Makhanda.
The turnout was excellent and everyone present reconnected and had a great time together. Those who missed out had a serious dose of FOMO (fear of missing out) and were very keen to ‘re-gather’ as soon as possible.
So, a class WhatsApp group was created and plans to meet in Cape Town in 2023 began in earnest.
To make the occasion more interesting and add an element of intrigue, a swim from Robben Island to Blouberg Strand was planned and the ‘Freedom Swim’ was born involving the expertise of David Copeland (Mullins 1980), Mel Meltzer (Mullins 1981) and me (Mullins 1980). In those years Mullins always won the swimming and gala events and it was inevitable that the swimmers from those years, and that House, would emerge and commit.
What followed was 8 months of intense WhatsApp engagement with the class and also preparation for the swim…essentially, we had to swim a minimum 10km per week for 3 months prior to compete and complete – preferably in the right environment. This meant sea swims in cold water.
The detailed plan was collectively formulated and, ultimately, superbly executed because the Class worked together as a team. This meant adopting the appropriate mindset and, also, building trust – which led to great conversations and very funny banter…on the journey to the weekend of 21-23 April 2023.
We all met in Cape Town on Friday 21 April for an informal gathering at the Waterfront. The mood was effusive and festive, and the support for the swimmers visibly evident. We were told not to drink alcohol and to go to bed early in no uncertain terms, led, vocally, by Tic de Jager (Graham 1980).
It should be noted that OA and DSG folk came from far and wide to be there, a significant commitment to each other, and these important relationships.
Both Genee Rodinis (nee Vandoros) and Jenny Elliot (nee Slack, DSG 1979) joined us, as did many partners, family, and friends of the College and DSG folk present. It was a big turnout!
Saturday 22 April dawned and David, Mel and I headed down to the boats after a safety briefing, took off to Robben Island. An interesting procedure occurs at the Island – as the boat cannot move through the kelp, we had to swim to the Island, through the kelp and cormorant colony to stand on the Island before our start became official. We then had to go out through the kelp and colony once again to commence the 7.5km swim to Blouberg.
The water was around 14.5 degrees Celsius at the start and we made good progress. A few kilometres into the crossing, I felt something move close by at high speed, and we were soon surrounded by a large pod of dolphins who stayed with us for about a kilometre. It felt good because I thought that so many dolphins meant very few sharks in the vicinity! Then came the seals, the blue-bottles, and the jellyfish – quite a sea-life experience. The temperature of the water did cool at one stage and Dave, unfortunately, got hypothermia…partly attributed to warm water training but mainly to a very thin wetsuit. So be it – we learn and live to swim another day and his disappointment was handled in true Andrean style, with a high degree of maturity.
After around 2.5-3 hours both Mel and I beached in Blouberg.
I like to quote Henry David Thoreau who said “When you achieve your dreams it is not so much what you get, but who you become” … highly relevant to us.
That night the Class of 1980, friends and family had a big and meaningful ‘re-gathering’ at the home of Andrew Golding – a generous host indeed. Some fine speeches and toasts followed with a report-back by Tic de Jager (Graham 1980), a toast to absent friends by Murray Loggie (Mullins 1980) and a toast to friends and families present by Dale Paul (who we like to call an ‘Honorary OA’). Thank you, gentlemen.
At the close of play, around 2am, the Class committed to an annual gathering, and the next will be in May 2024 to celebrate the DSG 150th anniversary.
We look forward to this enormously.
Nec Aspera Terrent
– Tony Macrae (Mullins 1980)
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