When it comes to leading by example, you are going to find it difficult to match the combination of the principal, Braam van Wyk and his sports organizer, Michelle Bridger at the St. Michael’s School for Girls in Bloemfontein – more specifically in sport.
They were both in action, joining their learners on Sunday at a Free State open water swimming event at Maselspoort. Van Wyk completed the 1 km event, whilst the “adrenalin junky”, Bridger did exactly the same, only faster.
Van Wyk, who is still actively playing senior league hockey and squash, is no sludge when endurance events such as the Cape Argus Cycling Tour (110 km) and Midmar Mile comes around once a year.
Van Wyk (and Bridger) joins scores of St. Michael’s learners in swimming the Midmar every year.
Add to this – he even finished the grueling Comrades Marathon between Pietermaritzburg and Durban in 1999.
The 51 year “young” Van Wyk swam his first Midmar Mile in 2002 and this year he will be attempting this world wide popular race for the 15th year in succession. At seven of his Midmar races he completed it twice a year, i.e. the company mile on day one followed by the individual mile on day two.
Van Wyk completed the Argus Cycle Tour 14 times already and told Schools that Rock that he will still decide whether he will attempt it in future again. Two of the mentioned years he finished the race on a tandem bike -, once with his wife Stienie and once with his son, Hann-Ru.
The much younger Bridger (33) must rate as one of the fittest and most versatile endurance sportswomen in the Free State currently. Except for joining St. Michael’s learners in several sports events, including road races, street miles and cycling races, she is a force to be reckoned with in major endurance races in the country.
During 2015, Bridger took part in the 38 km trail run in the Drakensberg Mountains where she finished eight in the women section.
Another tough one for her in 2015 was the Knysna Oyster Festival Big 5. This race consists of an 80 km mountain bike race, followed by 1,9 km swimming, 15 km trial run, a full Xterra triathlon and finishes off with a half marathon (21,1 km). She was the seventh lady overall to complete this severe (on the body and mind) expedition.
Bridger also completed the Baviaans mountain bike race from Willowmore to Jeffreysbay. This is a tough 230 km race.
As part of a team of four, Bridger tackled the 200 km Drakensberg Mount Aux Sources Double Moon adventure race, as well.
And to mention just one more of plenty – she finished the 65 km race of what is considered as one of the physically most taxing events in the country, the Skyrun from Lady Grey over the Witteberg mountain range.
PHOTO: These fitness fanatics (including the principal) from the St. Michael’s school for Girls in Bloemfontein, all took part at the annual Free State open water swimming event at Maselspoort outside Bloemfontein on Sunday. They are from the left at the back, Jacinta de Andrade, Gugu Sihlali, Roché Henecke, Marlone Surtees, Refilwe Ralikontsane, Braam van Wyk (principal) and Mark Muller (teacher). At the front from the left are Michelle Bridger (sports organizer), Katherine Burt Robinson and Matthew Perkins (teacher).