Joshua Ackerman has come a long way since his days in Academia on the Stellenbosch Campus. After two years of lockdown in Cape Town, he really wanted a new challenge. So, at the beginning of 2022, he packed up, left sunny South Africa and moved all the way to London, where he has been making waves …
“I set myself swimming targets. The first was to compete in the Ice Swimming World Championships, which took place in Glogow, Poland, in February 2022.” Joshua competed in the 250m, 500m and 1 000m events, with the water temperature being two degrees Celsius.
His second challenge of the year was an ice swimming expedition in Svalbard, where he swam in water of minus one degrees Celsius at the 78th parallel north. “This was a massive challenge as I had never been exposed to swimming in such extreme conditions, but I managed to complete the 1 000m,” he recalls.
Then came what he calls his biggest goal – to cross the English Channel. “Planning and training for this goal started when I was still in South Africa. When I started open water swimming in Cape Town 2018, the crew and friends I met had all these swimming accolades and I was being exposed to all these different expeditions and it just created this long-term goal that I wanted to swim across the Channel.”
After a year of planning and training, Joshua conquered the English Channel, considered the ultimate long distance swimming challenge, in September 2022. “I’m so stoked but actually mostly relieved that I achieved it. The build-up was the biggest stress of them all. You have a holding date of about a week for when you are going to swim and the biggest worry is that the weather isn’t going to hold and that you won’t be able to even attempt. So, once I knew that I was going to get my chance to swim, it was a massive weight off of my shoulders.”
Joshua says there is also no way that he would have achieved this feat without his team. “Throughout my training, Lewis Pugh [British-South African endurance swimmer and ocean advocate] was a big part of motivating me and giving me advice on how to prepare. He was part of the crew that were on the boat to take me across the Channel. He even swam with me during the dark times of the swim.”
What is next for this Matie adventurer? “The next challenge I’m looking at is going on an expedition to Antarctica, where I want to swim a mile and become a ‘both-polar swimmer.’” Joshua also plans on putting his Bachelor of Commerce degree to good use while in the United Kingdom. “I’m hoping to get into the fast-moving consumer goods or retail sector.”