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Meet Princess Charlene of Monaco Foundation’s – Dominique Donner

Dominique Donner

As we sit down with her, the elegant and poised Dominique Donner is the epitome of grace and charm whose beauty would not be out of place on the cover of any glossy  magazine.

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Beautiful and supremely talented, it wasn’t too long ago that  Dominique reigned in the sports world and when you think “world class athlete’ , Dominique’s name immediately springs to mind, with her having being ranked as South Africa’s Top Female TriAthlete in 2002 and in the ’90’s she dominated the sport resulting her becoming the Athlete of the Decade.

But Dominique’s first love has always been ‘water’, so it came as no surprise that Princess Charlene of Monaco would appoint her good friend as a trustee and Project Manager to her foundation.

The friendship between the princess and Dominique began way back when the princess was training for the Olympics and the two shared an apartment. They met through the princess’s coach and the two instantly clicked. The friendship has remained unchanged over the years and Dominique attended the fairytale wedding of Princess Charlene and Prince Albert in Monaco.

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Princess Charlene of Monaco Foundation

Dominique’s love for sport in general and for swimming in particular found her coaching young talent and helping other athletes achieve their goals. Her role in the foundation expands on this concept which has one goal in mind, to “Stop Drownings”. The foundation would like to see Water Safety become included in the curriculum of all schools. Becoming ‘water wise’ includes knowing how to swim but is so much more than that.

“The main mission of the Foundation is to prevent drowning. The initiative begins with an introduction to what it means to save a life, an insight to lifeguarding and how just being aware of water safety can save a life.”

Once inducted the initiative continues with a general water safety speech including ocean currents and safe bathing at the beach as well as safety around the pool and dams. A drowning is a terrifying scenario that goes beyond just being water safe and the actual rescue itself, for this reason we take the pupils through the skills of reviving a near drowning patient by performing hands only CPR and vomit drill, to best prepare them for what could happen. We  incorporate the through various rescue techniques used to save the lives of those in difficulty (the pupils are in the water for this presentation) after which the pupils demonstrate a mock rescue in which they are  required to put together all the skills they have been taught”

Since its inception almost a year ago, the foundation has been involved in various projects like:

In the Summer: “Learn-to-Swim”, teaching the children of LIV Village how to swim during their PE classes

8 clinics to the children of Summerhill Home (Etete). That was an incredibly rewarding project as the children started out being terrified of water and after 8 clinics every child was able to swim a minimum of 5 metres unaided!

Currently running a beach initiative/water awareness programme with Atholton Primary School since April. The initiatives were held on Umhlanga Beach.

Umhlali Preparatory School to all grades 4 -7. 17 classes in total and involving nearly 500 pupils. We used the school’s heated facility.

In June CURRO Mount Richmore will be the 3rd school to benefit from this initiative.

The foundation plans other initiatives including even more school for the winter months.

“The children have shown great excitement and enthusiasm to learning the safety drills and hopefully the initiative has given each and every child a deeper respect for the ocean and better understanding of the hazards that surround swimming pools, dams and rivers.”

The foundation is involved with ‘water education’ from grass roots level all the way through to competitions and talent development.. To this end it has funded the SA Water Polo team which competed at the Commonwealth Championships which were held in Aberdeen, Scotland and sponsored the television coverage of the SA Senior Swimming Nationals.

The Aim of the Foundation:

To spread these valuable life skills and help create “water safe communities” throughout Southern Africa. The foundation is currently setting up in Cape Town and Port Elizabeth.

The Princess is extremely passionate about her Foundation and its mission. She wants the world to understand that drowning is a global epidemic and the No 1 killer of children’s accidental death.

She would also like to see an upliftment of the life guarding fraternity and would like to encourage and empower the industry to further safeguard our beautiful coastline.

Our aim here is to see water awareness education become a compulsory life skill in all schools in South Africa.

The Princess Charlene of Monaco Foundation is associating itself with other legends of SA Sport like Francois Pienarr, Ryk Neethling and Zimbabwean Kirsty Coventry (former Olympic Gold medallist swimmer). Dominique’s husband, Michael Rodd is a Director of the Foundation for Southern Africa

For more infomation or to find out how you can get involved please send an email to:

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2001 African Triathlon Champion

2002 Zurich Woman’s Triathlon Champion

2002 South African Elite Sprint Champ

2003 SA Ultra Distance Sprint Champ + more

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