Shark attack survivor's dance of triumph

16 October 2015 - 02:47 By Jerome Cornelius


After losing his leg in a shark attack in June, Caleb Swanepoel considered giving up his drama studies at the University of Cape Town. But he persevered, and this week become an inspiration to thousands after posting a three-minute video of his movement exam on Facebook.Showing enviable control, physicality and grace, the 20-year-old - barefoot and wearing a black vest and pants - wows his examiners as he jumps, stretches and rolls. A perfect headstand has the audience gasping then applauding the ballet-infused contemporary routine.The video has been viewed more than 43000 times since he posted it last Friday, and has attracted hundreds of comments.Swanepoel shared the routine with the message: "In order to succeed, you must first believe that you can!""It was a special moment," Swanepoel said of the routine."So much has happened and changed. It was such a benchmark in my recovery to see progress and how I've developed. The encouragement came from lecturers, family and friends."Swanepoel said he had been taken aback by the response to the video."When I had the attack I didn't think I'd carry on, but now I'm nearly done with my first year. I shared the video because it's important that people know where I am in my progress. I want to show others that it's possible and you can do it. I didn't know it would get thousands of likes.In August Swanepoel returned to the sea, with a swim at Fish Hoek beach where his father's cousin, Lloyd Skinner, was killed by a shark in 2010.Swanepoel, from the Karoo town of Prince Albert, was attacked by a shark at Buffels Bay near Knysna in June while surfing with his brothers, Joshua and Alexander. His right leg had to be amputated above the knee."After the attack, I had different moves and had to adapt. It would be good for others to see that you aren't limited by your body. You can do anything if you put your mind to it," he said.Fellow amputee Lucille Latham posted on his Facebook page: "At 70 years I am going to gym so that I can build up my upper body strength and core. "

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