Olympic athlete from Seychelles to swim between islands to raise money, attention for mental health needs
One of Seychelles’ top athletes, swimmer Felicity Passon, is embarking on a 15km swimming challenge to raise funds that will go towards the promotion of mental health in the country.
The challenge — ‘Mind Over Matter’ — which is being organised in partnership with the Ministry of Family, Youth, and Sports, will take place on Saturday, April 24.
Passon will swim from La Digue to Praslin – the third- and second-most populated islands — and back starting at 6.30 am.
The Indian Ocean and African Champion of 2019 says she expects to complete the challenge in between four and five hours but this will depend on the weather conditions on the day.
She told the press that she has never done such a challenge before and swimming such a long distance is not something that she usually does.
Passon said that her priority remains the Olympic Games that will be taking place in July and as such is not making a lot of alterations to her training. She has added two extra sessions during the week, where she swims in the sea so as to get used to the different current and wind conditions.
“I want to push myself both physically and mentally so as to achieve this. At the same time, the fact that I am doing this for a good cause gives me the motivation that I need to finish the challenge. It will be difficult and a challenge and hence why I called it Mind over Matter, as it is really important that we become stronger than all the forms of limitations and problems that we encounter in our lives,” said Passon.
Though the public will not be able to come to support her on the day of the challenge due to the pandemic and safety measures at sea, a person can show their support by contributing to a bank account specially set up for the challenge.
Interested persons can make their contributions to the ‘Felicity Swim Challenge’ MCB account. The account number is 00000736047.
“This challenge is bigger than me. Mental health is something that many of us battle with, and with the pandemic, many have suffered even more through sickness, loss of a dear one, job insecurity, confinement, financial constraints, stress etc among others. With all these pressures, this project has the potential to have a meaningful impact on people’s lives,” said Passon.
Passon told the press that she has never done such a challenge before and swimming such a long distance is not something that she usually does. (Seychelles Nation) Photo License: CC-BY
She hopes that the challenge will inspire other athletes and the youth to play their role in society and give back to the community.
An officer from the Quality of Life Division of the ministry, Beryl Naiken, said in a press conference that the fund raised during the challenge will go towards an e-counselling service.
“The idea behind this service came when COVID-19 first hit Seychelles. At that time there wasn’t any community transmission, but schools were closed and people were at home, and we saw a sudden rise in the need to give counselling. The fact that everyone was at home, we were unable to provide the service and this is how the idea came about,” said Naiken.
E-counselling will be an extension of the counselling service being provided by the ministry. Naiken said that having such a service in place will allow the ministry to provide counselling, even if only virtually, to the public should the country undergo another lockdown.
The chief executive of the National Sports Council, Jean Larue, said that the council fully supports Passon and encourages other athletes to engage in such activities.
“I would like to congratulate Felicity on the project which we find really satisfying and commendable. We are encouraging other athletes to come forward. What she is doing is a challenge, it’s a first and we find it really important at this point due to the fact that she is doing it together with the Quality of Life Division,” said Larue.
He explained that as the council undergoes certain restructuring, a ‘Sports Science and Technology’ centre has been set up, under which the NSC expects to get a full-time phycologist who will work with athletes.