A swimmer with attitude

2013-02-07 10:00

Cape Town - A man with no limbs will take to the waters of Midmar Dam this weekend.

Craig Dietz, 38, a motivational speaker and attorney from the United States, will take part in the world’s largest open water swimming event, the Midmar Mile.

The Witness caught up with Dietz at the Seals Swimming Club on Wednesday, accompanied by his wife, Christy Appleby.

Born without arms and legs, as a young boy Dietz was playing percussion. At the age of 12, he was hunting with his father. He graduated from Duquesne University in Pittsburgh in 1996 with a BA in political science. There is not much that Dietz cannot do.

At the poolside at the JC Joliffe Baths, he caught amazed looks from the children at Seals. Not once did he seem bothered.

Dietz is determined that his disability should not define him.

“For me it’s always been about not allowing the circumstances of my life define me, but to define myself,” he said.

He said he had enjoyed being in the water since he was a child. It was in 2008 when he decided to do distance and open-water swimming and competed in a 1?500m swim in the Pittsburgh Triathlon. He had been hooked ever since. His longest swim was 7.2km.

“Pool swimming is dull and boring,” he laughed.

“I love having the sky above me and trees around me. I find it to be therapeutic. I love the open water. No lanes. No walls.”

Dietz joked that the beauty he had seen in South Africa would count against him as it would mesmerise him and he might forget to swim. He would not trade his experiences for anything, he said.

“Reason being is I’ve had lots of experiences in my life and met a lot of people.”

While growing up, he said, his parents would find a way for him to accomplish many difficult tasks.

Appleby said her husband was positive and always found a way to do what he wanted to do.

“I really admire that about him... He always tries to find a possibility.”

Before he leaves on Monday, Dietz said, he wanted to go to the beach to get the feel of the Indian Ocean.

The Witness

  • tim.gordon.5011516 - 2013-02-07 10:44


  • michael.mostert1 - 2013-02-07 10:48

    total respect to him , well done , i hope you will inspire many SA MEN and WOMAN

  • FerretGee - 2013-02-08 16:51

    I had the pleasure of EmCeeing his breakfast this morning where he spoke of his life and abilities. He refuses to see himself as "disabled" and his desire to succeed knows no bounds.

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