Blind sporter to embark on epic swim on 1 October

The original article is posted on eTravelBlackboard since Friday, 24 September 2010

Loyal supporter, James Pittar, will tackle extreme water temperatures and currents to raise funds for The Fred Hollows Foundation in Hawaii next week.

Pittar, who is blind, will launch off from Molokai Island on a difficult 42 kilometre swim to mainland Hawaii on 1 October 2010. A crew member in a kayak will blow a whistle to guide James as he swims Molokai Channel. He hopes to finish in under 14 hours.

“I enjoy marathon swimming and the opportunity to try and complete long distance swims is a great challenge,” said Pittar.

The Sydneysider, 40, hopes to raise over $10,000 for The Foundation’s sight-saving work, through sponsorship. This is enough to help The Foundation with 400 cataract operations, which can cost as little as $25.

“I’m very pleased to support The Foundation through these swims,” he said.

The swim is one chapter in Pittar’s ongoing attempt to complete the Ocean’s Seven marathon. The goal of the event is to swim seven notoriously difficult stretches of water in different parts of the world. No one has completed the challenge yet. Pittar hopes the Hawaii swim will become the fifth notch on his belt.

“The Hawaii swim will be enormously difficult, being in 25 degree water,” said Pittar.

But there are few doubts Pittar will conquer the Molokai Channel. Adding to a swag of accolades, he was recently inducted into the International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame for his long distance achievements. James is one of only a handful of Australians to receive this honour.

“Hopefully the funds raised by my swim will mean The Foundation can help more people to experience a full life - with sight,” James says.

“It would be a great achievement to get those people who are needlessly blind in the world to see again.”

In 2009, The Foundation performed 195,406 sight operations and treatments, screened 1,765,079 people and trained 5,878 eye health professionals.