Catching Waves with the Silver-haired Sunrise Swimmers

The numbing waters of the Atlantic Ocean are the remedy in these stills by filmmaker, photographer, surfer Tao Farren-Hefer. Growing up on Cape Town’s beaches, it was on a sunrise session of his own that he first noticed a group of old women hitting the wild waves with even wilder abandon. He came to realise their icy escapades are a daily ritual; their boogie boards and swimming caps a regular addition to the usual domain of wet-suited surfers and toothy fish. “I just couldn‚Äôt understand how they were leaving the water so ecstatic after what most people would consider torture,” he told us.¬†Wanting to find out more, he joined the group to document their dawn swims over a few weeks for this series of photographs and a short film by the same name, The Sunrise Swimmers.

“I discovered that they were a dynamic group of incredibly positive people who, in their retirement, are now rediscovering their youth and happiness through the sea.

“Incredibly, regardless of the weather, they do not miss a day. They are known to swim in rain, hail and the Cape‚Äôs gale-force South Easter, only skipping a day when their lives are endangered by lightning storms.”

“As someone who loves the ocean myself, I knew I had to share their message when they told me that the reason for this routine even when faced by the obstacles of their fragile bodies, an extremely high shark activity area, and the Cape weather conditions, is their infinite love and longing for the ocean.”

 

Sunrise Swimmers Tao Farren-Hefer

Sunrise Swimmers Tao Farren-Hefer

Sunrise Swimmers Tao Farren-Hefer

Sunrise Swimmers Tao Farren-Hefer

Sunrise Swimmers Tao Farren-Hefer

Sunrise Swimmers Tao Farren-Hefer

Sunrise Swimmers Tao Farren-Hefer

Tao Farren-Hefer

Sunrise Swimmers Tao Farren-Hefer

Sunrise Swimmers Tao Farren-Hefer

Sunrise Swimmers Tao Farren-Hefer

Sunrise Swimmers Tao Farren-Hefer

Sunrise Swimmers Tao Farren-Hefer

Sunrise Swimmers Tao Farren-Hefer

Sunrise Swimmers Tao Farren-Hefer

Sunrise Swimmers Tao Farren-Hefer

Sunrise Swimmers Tao Farren-Hefer

Sunrise Swimmers Tao Farren-Hefer

Sunrise Swimmers Tao Farren-Hefer

Sunrise Swimmers Tao Farren-Hefer

 

www.taofarren-h.com

Watch The Sunrise Swimmers short film.

14 Comments
    1. Thanks so much for your comment, Angela. We hope you like Tao’s beautiful images. Doing research for the article we found out that the Indian Ocean’s western border lies from the coast of the Antarctic continent northwards, along the meridian of 20¬∫ E to Cape Agulhas. So we decided to go with Atlantic. Although, we also found that it’s a hot debate online!

      All the best,
      Casimir

  1. This is gorgeous. It reminds me of my ‘fairy godmother’ who lived in Southbroom on the South Coast. She was also a silver headed lady who loved surfing and the ocean. Her dogs would lie on her robe and wait for her!

  2. I absolutely love this article & these images in particular. And the more I think about them, the more I realize that these are real strong healthy women. Aging? Yes. As we all are. But their passion for life is most contagious!! Thank you Tao!! 🙂

  3. Love your pictorial story, but feel the use of the words ‘old women’ should be replaced with something a little ‘softer’. Yes they are older women, they’re ladies, and they’re all real characters, and they’re definitely not terribly fragile – these ladies would put most 40 year olds to shame 🙂 The words ‘old women’ jarrs…. they’re ‘wave-riders’!

  4. Absolutely inspiring!!! Thank you for sharing the positivity and a message that life does not end when you hit 50ty. Thank you to the Ladies who remind us what is most important in Life- live life!!!! Live the day, sharing laughter and happiness from within.

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