Empower 20 million Africans to sustainably provide for themselves by 2032.

My big cold swim

Join Russell Raath as he takes an icy, shark-infested swim from Robben Island to Cape Town to raise US$1 million for Africa

  • $9,700 of $1 million raised

Big cold swim: Only 2,580 people have crossed solo from Robben Island to Cape Town, compared with the 11,300 who've summited Everest.

Russell is determined to inspire others to make a difference for Africa. He's taking on the icy waters, and invites supporters and kindred spirits to join him by making a donation and spreading the word.

The big cold swim to raise US$1 million


Zimbabwean-born Russell Raath, now the successful founder of The Ambition Company who works with leaders and teams around the world, wanted to do something impactful for the continent of his birth. But what?

Running was never his thing, so that was out. Swimming? Also not great – Russell had never swum more than a few laps in a pool – but the kernel of a big idea began to form: a Robben Island swim, in the ocean that links Africa with America!


One of the world’s greatest long-distance swims, between Cape Town and the world-famous island through icy, shark-infested waters swirling with dangerous currents, it is only for the fittest, most determined swimmers. He's also doing it in the toughest way in what is known among aficionados as a “skin swim”, in only a Speedo, cap and goggles. For a first-timer such as Russell, it is daunting; but it is not for nothing that the organisation he leads is called The Ambition Company.


To raise $1 million. Russell’s determination to do something meaningful with his life stems from something of an existential crisis he experienced during the Covid-19 lockdown, he says: “During the lockdown my wife went to the United Kingdom to care for our Mom. It was in this time that I turned 50, which led me to ponder what life is about for me and what I can do to make an impact.”



Russell plans to undertake his swim on 29 or 30 April 2023, depending on prevailing conditions. In the meantime, he is diving (pun intended) into cold-water immersion to prepare him for the frigid autumn Atlantic water. As to the sharks and long exposure in the cold water, he paraphrases Henry Ford "whether I believe I can do this swim or I can't, either way I'm right". And I'm following the sage advice of some pioneers in this field - just don't think about what is below me."

“But they aren’t going to stand – swim? – between me and my ambition to complete this challenge,” he says. “I’ve encountered some corporate sharks in my career that are much scarier!”

Follow Russell's preparations and swim on LinkedInFacebook and Twitter.