Bravery and determination in a sporting context often inspire images of great sporting icons collapsing at the finish of a race, or an Olympian chasing down a world record and standing to receive a gold medal. However, sometimes bravery is just waking up in the morning and being willing to try again.
I love meeting strong, active women and recently I met a lady who is the embodiment of bravery and determination. This is her story:
On 8 September 2018, Kerry Hardy (41), mother of two, was involved in a horrific car accident. The terrifying turn of events, where death seemed the likely outcome, left Kerry fighting for her life. She sustained severe head and abdominal injuries. Kerry’s journey to recovery was challenging but, due to her immense determination and bravery, she recovered far quicker than any of her doctors predicted. However, life as she knew it had fundamentally changed. Be brave, keep going and do the best you can had been a motto of Kerry’s before the accident and this now became her mantra during recovery.
Growing up, Kerry swam competitively at school but had not actively been in the water for many years. Towards the end of 2020, following one of her multiple operations, a friend introduced her to Thompson’s Bay Pool. Swimming once again became a fundamental part of Kerry’s life post-accident.
Most mornings, Jose´de Charmoy, a well-known local Ballito long-distance swimmer, can be found swimming (and talking) at Thompson’s Bay Tidal Pool. In February, he observed Kerry cautiously swimming around Thompson’s. A heap of pebbles lay at the steps and, after each circular lap, she would move a pebble, recording the laps. Day after day, Kerry would arrive, swim around Thompson’s counting her laps with the pebbles.
This went on for many weeks. Jose´ explains that he and his friend Mike Oberholzer saw a spark in her and it wasn’t just her swimming potential. Her iron will to succeed and her excitement for life shone brightly. Jose introduced himself and offered some swimming guidance. Lap by lap an unlikely friendship formed, and Kerry landed up sharing her horrific past. Each day, the duo would tweak Kerry’s technique and slowly her daily distance started to increase.
After two months, she was comfortably up to about 3.5 km. Jose´ then suggested she enter the 5km Yellowfin Ocean Sea Challenge. Without giving it a second thought, Kerry entered her first sea swim. The duo once again ramped up her training and, stroke by stroke, Kerry’s confidence grew. On the morning of Sunday16 May, Kerry excitedly entered the water at Clarke Bay alongside Jose to complete her first open water ocean swim. The broad smile as she exited the water at Salt Rock Main beach was so clearly evident. Open water swimming is not for the faint-hearted; few would even contemplate it, never mind attempt it. Kerry embraced the challenge, showing once again her determination and courage.
“It was special sharing and completing the swim with Kerry,” Jose´ says. ”She taught me that past hardships can be overcome through perseverance and, at the end of the day, there is hope! Equally remarkable as Kerry’s courage and strength is her can-do attitude and positive outlook.”
“The accident could have happened to anyone”, explained Kerry, “but I hope I can give people a glimpse of what bravery looks like and inspire them to never give up. Every day I know that when the sun rises, I need to be grateful and excited that I have the whole day ahead of me to do amazing things”.
From death’s door to long-distance swimming, Kerry Hardy proves to be an inspiration to everyone who hears her story.
If you have an inspiring story to share about you or a woman close to you overcoming obstacles through determination and being active, we would love to hear it and possibly share their story and inspire other women #confidenceworthsharing