St John's College

Stuart West,and Lester Lalla with Ryan Stramrood after their swim

St John’s Prep hosted their annual Polar Bear Swim, taking to the icy waters of Long Walk Pool to help raise funds for the completion of the new Aquatics Centre.

We ran the fundraising campaign over six days with several fundraising thresholds in place, with a target of R200 000 to get Stuart West, Executive Headmaster at St John’s College, into the pool. It went down to the wire, with the last donations of R60 000 coming in just before the swim, to make this happen.

The evening kicked off with Ryan Stramrood, a world-renown extreme swimmer who has quietly been crossing channels and setting records without much fuss or publicity, delivering his ‘Push Past Impossible’ address. Ryan reminded us that we should constantly challenge our beliefs around our limitations by getting out of our comfort zones.

The St John’s community was then challenged to push past their impossible and take the freezing plunge into Long Walk Pool. Sophumla Ngoma, Head Swimming Coach at the Prep, had committed to swim, along with his Prep colleagues Chris Hoy and Jason Tee, if the community managed to raise R25 000.

Nicola Burger, Chair of the Parents’ Association and Deputy Chair of Council, agreed to brave the cold if we raised R50 000. She was joined by staff members Peter Wright, Martin Huysamer, Dave Vermeulen, Nick Rodda and Jan Mallen. Mr Jon Gunning, Mr Vlad Trninic, and Mr Tony Johnson dived at R75 000.

The Polar Bear Swim ended with Mr Lester Lalla, Headmaster of St John’s Preparatory and Mr Stuart West, Executive Headmaster of St John’s College, taking the plunge for achieving the goals of R100 000 and R200 000, respectively.

Thank you to the greater St John’s community for your generous support and to our boys, teachers and parents who braved the freezing water to help us get closer to completing our brand new Aquatics Centre. Thank you to iTOO for sponsoring our guest speaker.

If you would like to find out how you can become involved in the project, please contact [email protected]. If you would like to donate towards the completion of this project, visit

Polar Swim09
‘Push Past Impossible’ with Ryan Stramrood