Daring to be different, Fred Kockott does some last-minute preparations ahead of his 8 Mile challenge at Aquelle Midmar Mile this weekend. Of all the 225 8 Milers, Fred is the only one swimming in aid of marine conservation.

WASHED-UP hack Fred Kockott, notorious among Durban’s editors for always trying to get “splash” treatment for his scribblings – and even more for interns under training with Roving Reporters – is making waves of a different kind this weekend.

It’s all for a good cause, of course. Kockott is raising funds for WildOceans – the marine conservation arm of the WildTrust – by swimming all eight one mile events at the Aquelle Midmar Mile.

As a latecomer to this year’s 8 Mile Club, Kockott only started fundraising a few days ago, but is banking on a last-minute show of public support to reach his target of R12,000. But he will need to complete all the other seven first.

According to a colleague, the last time Kockott attempted this feat was more than 10 years ago, managing only  three Miles before getting rescued from the middle of the dam.

“That’s a lie,” says 56-year-old Kockott, “I managed seven, but bailed the second one because of cramps.”

Truth be told, Kockott was a founder member of The 8 Mile Club established in 2003 by Mervyn Bremner, Stan Kozlowski and Richard Stretch. He completed all eight mile events at the inaugural swim, but the next year, went on a bender with newsroom mates the night before, and cramped up at the starting line-up of the first race. Only after serious rehydration, was Kockott back in the game.

This year Kockott is taking no chances, and will eat bananas and sweet potato chips on the eve of his marathon swim.

The health of our oceans affects us all, after all, and Kockott, always daring to be different be different, is the only 8 Miler swimming in aid of marine conservation.

The other 254 8 Milers are swimming for various other deserving charities, including the Childhood Cancer Association (CHOC),  CANSA, NSRI, the Dusi-Umgeni Conservancy Trust (DUCT), the Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife Trust, PinkDrive, Wildlands Conservation Trust, Mandeville Disability Swimming, the Friends of Swimmers Trust and Singakwenza – an early childhood education programme.

Collectively they have raised more than R3.3 million so far, with Kozlowski leading the pack. He has so far collected pledges of R45 200 toward his target of R80 000 for Wildlands’s rhino conservation projects in Somkhanda Game Reserve.

Rhino conservation efforts in Somkhanda Game Reserve will benefit from the 8 Mile swims. Photo: Wildlife Worldwide

Kockott is under no illusions about the tough challenge ahead and his slim chance of catching up with Kozlowski on the fundraising front, but he has promised sponsors a dam fine effort — and no night-before benders.

Click here to view profiles of all 8 Milers and make donations to any of the benefiting charities.

Click here to donate to Fred’s fundraising swim in aid of WildOceans

Fred’s training route

Pirates Lifesavers Club (Battery Beach) to New Pier and back (occassionally)