Swimming novice braving new challenges

Aphiwe Katikati with Hugo Lombard, who inspired him to start doing triathlons.

It’s been about a year since Aphiwe Katikati learned how to swim, and he has just completed the Ironman half triathlon. He practised swimming in the ocean for the first time a day before, and proudly completed the race in 6 hours and 12 minutes.
Katikati came to Bloemfontein looking for a change of scenery from his hometown of Engcobo.

Aphiwe Katikati, proudly wearing his Ironman half triathlon medal. PHOTO: PIERCE VAN HEERDEN

An agriculture student, he joined CUT to further his studies, completing his BTech and MTech. While there, he played soccer but soon realised that it was not for him.
“I thought, let me try another sport and luckily I met a new friend from Pretoria at a work function in Durban. He had just swum 7.5 kilometres in the ocean. I was intrigued and asked him to tell me more,” said Katikati.
During May 2018 he asked his friend, Zabion Dewee, to teach him how to swim in a pool, as he and his new friend, Hugo Dewee, planned on entering Ironman in January 2019. Zabion said, “He came to me after work. We have a pool where we stay. He said to me, ‘Zabion, I want to learn how to swim’. I asked him if he was crazy, it’s the middle of winter. I said I’ll help you but I’m not getting into the pool, and what amazed me was he just jumped in. When he realised that the other end of the pool was very deep, he got out and went home, but he never gave up, he joined a gym and started practising on a regular basis.”
Katikati’s first triathlon did not go as planned as he had never swum in a river before. “I didn’t finish, I panicked because swimming in a river is not the same as swimming in a pool,” he said.

Getting to Durban for the Ironman half marathon was also a challenging task. However, he had help. He and his girlfriend, Bonwane Khumalo, used the money they had been saving for a vacation to make the trip a working vacation. Raymond Choane let him use his bike, while fellow-swimmer, Kabelo Sekaleli, trained alongside him. Hugo Lombard donated a wetsuit to Katikati and Zabion Dewee helped ensure that he was surrounded by positive goal-orientated motivators.
“When it got hard during the race, I looked around and remembered all the people who had sacrificed a lot for me. When I got to the finish line I was so emotional and did not even know if I should cry or not,” he said.
Katikati is now aiming to take part in the full Ironman and believes that with the right equipment, nutrition and continuous training, he has a great chance of doing well. To help support his dream, contact Katikati on 073-002-6446 or Zabion Dewee on 062-600-1989.

Seithati Semenokane