Princess Charlene of Monaco is this weekend embarking on a punishing 24-hour water bike challenge to raise awareness and funds for her foundation's activities.
The gruelling challenge will see two teams on water bikes cycling from Calvi to Monaco.
"Navigating the ocean at night is no easy task. One feels so small and insignificant when facing this watery giant," said the former Benoni resident who also represented South Africa in swimming at the Olympic Games.
Discover this fantastic initiative by our partner the Princess Charlene of Monaco Foundation. The Crossing : Calvi – Monaco Water Bike Challenge starts tomorrow!— Peace and Sport (@peaceandsport) September 11, 2020
This unique challenge aims to raise awareness about drowning prevention and water safety. #PrincessCharlenFoundation pic.twitter.com/Es1uLi3snq
Displaying the traits of a true Olympian, the Princess trained daily, including while holidaying with her family in Calvi for the summer, said her sister-in-law and Director of the Princess Charlene of Monaco Foundation, Chantel Wittstock.
"Training and competing in the water taught me the importance of discipline, respect for oneself and others, team spirit, and dedication. Most significantly, I saw how learning to swim could not only change lives, as it did mine but also save lives."Princess Charlene
The Crossing: Calvi – Monaco Water Bike Challenge
From Calvi's port, two teams of four internationally renowned athletes will take turns at sea for nearly 24 hours, paddling over 180 kilometres.
Together with former UFC star, Conor McGregor, Olympic gold medallist, Yannick Angel, and Australian racing cyclist, David Tanner, HSH are part this gruelling challenge.
Conor McGregor says it’s ‘an honour and a challenge’ to team up with Princess Charlene of Monaco for 180km water cycle https://t.co/FH2RIad24g— Irish Sun Sport (@IrishSunSport) August 13, 2020
The teams are scheduled to arrive at the Yacht Club de Monaco on Sunday 13 September.
"For a long time, water was my life. Discovering the joy of swimming inspired me to dedicate 20 years of my life to training and realising my dream to become an Olympic swimmer."
Princess Charlene added: "I'm also all too aware of the risks associated with water. Learning to respect the water and learning how to swim and stay safe in it can reduce these risks and give us great confidence and freedom."
The two teams competing in the Water Bike Challenge are Princess Charlene's team, Serenity, and team Notorious, led by her brother Gareth Wittstock, General Secretary of the Princess Charlene of Monaco Foundation.
Water bike challenge: Battle of the siblings— Monaco Life (@MonacoLife_) August 11, 2020
It's been revealed that Princess Charlene and Gareth Wittstock will go head to head for The Crossing: Calvi – Monaco Water Bike Challenge....#monaco #monacolife #monaconews #montecarlo #monacolife_ https://t.co/IHiwsAzanH pic.twitter.com/k9epc6591R
South Africa still close to heart
The Water Bike Challenge follows on the hugely successful #strongtogether initiative that the Princess' Foundation recently ran in South Africa.
The initiative, aimed at raising awareness and alleviating the suffering related to the COVID-19 pandemic, reached 92 million people, and impacted 45 charities, her foundation said.
It is one of many initiatives the foundation runs, and "there are many more fantastic and impactful initiatives to come," said Wittstock.
Many horizons to conquer
Princess Charlene has always been passionate about helping others, especially in her home country.
Her foundation says it not only focusses on raising awareness about the crucial issue of water safety, teaching people to swim and ocean hygiene, but also uses the "transformative power of the positive values of sport" by giving children access to a variety of sporting codes and disciplines.
Its sport and education initiatives include providing financial support to talented athletes who lack the funds to realise their dreams.
The Monaco royal is leading the charge with her Water Bike Challenge and has asked South Africa to stand behind her and her foundation to continue making a difference.
Her mission in life is to save lives, make a difference, and give back, said Wittstock, adding that Princess Charlene is passionate about both Monaco and South Africa, and that her work continues to inspire.