The Start of a New Era


After seven years of dedicated environmental fundraising and educational initiatives which have unified local communities and empowered the youth, non-profit organisation, Four Elements Conservation NPC will be ending its journey with a final informal and friendly ocean swim in celebration of World Ocean’s Day.


Established by Durban’s Olivia Taylor at the age of 14, Four Elements Conservation has met its mandate of providing a platform for community engagement, a voice for the youth and encouraging support and contribution from more than 500 people who’ve participated in the Four Elements Ocean Challenge.


“I have been working in environmental fundraising and communication for nearly half my life, starting at the age of 11, raising more than R500 000 for conservation efforts over this time,” said Taylor, now 21. “I set up Four Elements Conservation at 14 during which time, as CEO, I have organised four swimming events, a social entrepreneurship training camp and merchandising, and I have represented the country in a number of international youth and environmental roles. This journey has afforded me immense personal growth, invaluable experience and has acted as a stepping stone for the next phase of my contribution to the environment.”


The young social entrepreneur has recently taken on a new role as a member of the United Nation’s World Ocean’s Day Youth Advisory Council. This notable position will see Taylor assisting in expanding the reach of this important day, offering unique perspectives and recommendations for ocean conservation while working with fellow members – represented by more than 100 countries.


In addition to this high-profile role, Taylor is currently in her third year at Stellenbosch University, with studies demanding a significant portion of time and energy. She explained the decision to close the Four Elements Conservation chapter of her life was extremely difficult, but she did not view it as an end, but rather a start for new adventures and contributions on a larger scale.


“My fiduciary duty as a director of Four Elements Conservation demands commitment primarily to the organisation, making it difficult to engage with bigger organisations because of potential conflict with Four Elements,” explained Taylor.  “I believe that non-profit companies need to achieve scale if they are to both make a significant impact and adequately cover their costs.  If you think about it, working with the United Nations gives me a far bigger soapbox than a small non-profit company in Durban. While it has been an amazing phase, by acknowledging these limitations and moving on liberates me to do far bigger things and make a far more valuable contribution.”


“Four Elements Conservation still has cash in the bank,” says Olivia.  “My objective is to develop a unique and engaging ocean conservation initiative with an environmentally responsible corporate partner.  I will contribute seed funding of over R100 000 and offer my energy, passion, experience and time.  In return, the corporate partner will contribute some of its internal resources and market reach, and commit to matching my seed contribution for an approved initiative.  Together we will do something truly innovative and amazing.”


She said that, through her role as CEO of Four Elements Conservation, she has grown in confidence and reached more people than she’d previously thought possible, opening up doors for her to take up even more significant roles that positively contribute to greater environmental and social change.


Following her studies, Taylor intends to gain overseas experience, eventually bringing these skills and insights back home for tangible solutions to local problems.  “The story of Four Elements is far from over. The legacy will continue to inspire young people and to tell a story of how a little bit of passion can go a long way. I feel the candle has been lit and that flame can never be extinguished, rather passed onto others who have been touched by Four Elements, inspired by its passion and desire to continue the work in ocean conservation.”


Four Elements Conservation will celebrate all the work done over the years – as well as the Indian Ocean and its inhabitants - with a final, informal ocean swim over the weekend of 5 and 6 May 2018, the details of which will be advised once confirmed.





Results for the Four Elements Ocean Challenge 2016 

4EOC 2016 Results.pdf 4EOC 2016 Results.pdf
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Top Results 4EOC 2016.pdf Top Results 4EOC 2016.pdf
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Official event photographer Graham Topfoto, see more photos on the Facebook page!


4E OC 2015 - Winners.pdf 4E OC 2015 - Winners.pdf
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The inaugural Four Elements Ocean Challenge 2014 took place in perfect conditions along Durban’s iconic beachfront on Saturday, May 3, and saw 16 tough competitors conquer the 7 kilometres swim from Blue Lagoon to the harbour’s northern wall.

Julian Taylor, chairman of the Durban Surf Lifesaving Club – and former Midmar Mile winner – took first place on the day, although the event was not focused on who finished where, but about creating awareness for next month’s World Oceans Day.

"Swimmers said they felt connected to the ocean, which was the objective of the event," said race organiser and founder of the Four Elements Conservation organisation, Olivia Taylor.

"We wanted to raise as much awareness as possible about World Oceans Day which takes places on June 8."

Sixteen swimmers took part in the event in total, each of whom were supported by a safety paddler in case of an emergency.

"The swimmers were treated to 15 metre visibility, warm water, pods of dolphins, and shoals of fish. Carina Bruwer, one of the competitors and seasoned open water swimmer, described the Four Elements Ocean Challenge as ‘the most beautiful long distance swim ever’," said Taylor

Other noteworthy participants in the race included professional swimmer and coach Glen Gore, SA junior swimming champion, Ayanda Maphumulo, and Triple Crown open water swimmer, Roger Finch.

"Overall, the inaugural Challenge was a wonderful success, with the passionate swimmers very excited about the prospect of this becoming an annual event, while Durban beachfront was regarded by the out-of-town swimmers as world-class," Taylor revealed. 

The day’s events were all captured on camera, and will be turned into a short film that will be released as part of World Oceans Day celebrations.

 "Our objective is to support, communicate and promote environmental activities, including the protection and preservation of endangered, threatened or suffering creatures," Taylor added.

"Thanks to the sponsors: Grindrod, FMI, Nando’s, and everyone who was involved in making the day a success."

Below is the list of all of the swimmers who took part:

NAME                            BUSINESS                                                                                                     SWIMMING ACHIEVEMENTS

Rob Rusconi:                 Ex-CEO, Lombard Life, MD, Tres Actuarial                                                   SA 10km Swim Champs 2013, Robben Island
Wilma van Niekerk:        Sports Coach, Durban Girls’ College                                                            Springbok triathlete, world masters swim champ
John McCarthy:             Founder/ Editor The BOMB Surf                                                                   First swimmer from Aliwal Shoal to Clansthal (5km solo)
Julian Taylor:                 Chairman, Durban Surf Lifesaving Club                                                        Midmar Mile winner, swam Toti –Umkomaas (20km solo)
Mark Taylor:                   Vice Chairman, Paragon Entertainment                                                       Winner, 50yrs+, 2011 Bosphorous Race, Istanbul (6.5km)
Roger Finch:                  Open water swimming coach                                                                        1st SA swimmer to do Triple Crown of Open Water Swimming
Ayanda Maphumulo:      Scholar , Durban Girls’ College                                                                    SA representative, African Junior Championships 2013
Carina Bruwer:               Leader, instrumental pop group Sterling EQ                                                English Channel, Cape Point (8km), RobbenIsland x9, Gibraltar
Terry Bantock:               CEO, Buildmax                                                                                             Midmar Mile medallist, SA Masters swim champion
Otto Thaning:                 Heart surgeon                                                                                              English Channel, Strait of Gibraltar, Robben Island
Sarah Ferguson:            Physiotherapist, Pilates Instructor, Coach                                                   Finalist Singapore World Cup 2009, National Swimmer
Jill Hanass-Hancock      PhD, Senior researcher, UND                                                                      South African colours - Masters swimming        
Heather Campbell         Swimming coach, Founder Dolphin Mile Swim Series                                 World title holder in Masters swimming
Jed Borrill                      MD at Scatec Solar SA                                                                                 Provincial swimmer                                                                           
Glen Gore                      Co -owner, Triathlon Plus SA Magazine, Pro Athlete & Coach                    SA and African Triathlon champion                              
Lwazi Deyi                     Sales and Marketing Manager, Balloon and  Printing                                  Masters swimmer and national medallist

If you are interested in donating towards this exciting initiative contact us to find out about the benefits!

In 2008, the United Nations General Assembly decided that 8 June would be designated as World Oceans Day. “The oceans are essential to food security and the health and survival of all life, power our climate and are a critical part of the biosphere. The official designation of World Oceans Day is an opportunity to raise global awareness of the current challenges faced by the international community in connection with the oceans.”

Since 2008 World Oceans Dayhas been coordinated internationally by The Ocean Project and the World Ocean Network with greater success and global participation each year. World Oceans Day is an opportunity every year to honour and celebrate the world's oceans.

The Four Elements Ocean Challenge will be registered with the Ocean Project as an official World Oceans Day event.

Below, a swim report by Mark Taylor, Director of Four Elements Conservation NPC.