Natasha Ruscheinski

Since 2011, Ms. Ruscheinski, 30, has lived in the Virgin Islands and worked for Deloitte. In her time here, the South African has won and helped organise numerous triathlons and swimming events. Additionally, she is the founder of the non-profit organisation Promoting Animal Welfare.

Natasha Ruscheinski
Talk about organising events and how it has helped your programme PAW?

I love to organise things. When I got here in 2011, the Summer Splash swim at Smugglers Cove was started. Last year, I thought to myself that I am organising it and I need money for my charity. So I married the two. I spoke to the sponsors — Deloitte and Ogier — and they both agreed. I found I was getting a lot more involvement from the community, because I was getting the cat and dog people as well as the swimming people. It was our largest turnout so far. It really does benefit people on both sides. It is the only sports fundraiser for PAW, but Tortola Torture donated to us as well.

It seems like swimming is something that you excel at. How did you get involved in the sport? Did you swim in college?

I have been swimming since I was tiny. I think I received swimming lessons from the age of 1. I have always swum for my school. And then when I went to high school, I started playing water polo. It became my main sport for 10 years — from high school to university. Obviously there is no water polo here, so I had to find something else to keep me busy. That is when I got into a lot of swimming, triathlons and running. I have never been a runner, but I have just done my second marathon. The running community here is really awesome. Kay Reddy and that crew are so encouraging. I would have never done a marathon without those people. My first triathlon was here. The [VI] is a great place for doing triathlons, because even if you come in last place everyone is cheering for you.

You have done well in several races here. Have you always been so successful?

It is easier being a big fish here. I never won an open water race in South Africa, because obviously there is a lot more competition. But I did play for our State A team and was the captain of my university team. I did have some accolades in water polo. Swimming not as much, because I didn’t do it as much in South Africa. I didn’t get into open water swimming, because I lived in Johannesburg and there is no sea. And if you go to Cape Town you get the great whites. Here is probably one of the best places in the world to do open water swimming. You have calm and beautiful seas.

What are some of your favourite events here?

Swimming-wise, I would have to say the St. John swim and Summer Splash.

Triathlon-wise, there is the Peter Island event, which is really beautiful. And then the Corporate Cup. We have won that three out of the five years that it has been going. We have a new team this year. We will see how it goes.

You are very mindful of the community. Where does that come from?

I think everyone should be. It is natural to me. It probably comes from my mom. She would give you the last blanket off her bed if you needed it. It has always been like that. I like sharing what I am passionate about. It is always easy to do things you love.

When you aren’t competing or organising, what do you like to do?

I love reading. Whenever I get the chance, I will read books.

What is the last book you read?

I recently read two John Grisham books. I forgot the names, but it was his usual standard. I have a book club too, which gives me a nice diverse range. I will read anything and everything when I have the time.

Who are some of your inspirations when it comes to life and sports?

I would definitely say my mom. She was a teacher at a special-needs school. She always works hard and gave more than someone in a crazy corporate executive job. She never stops. This is a good and bad thing, because I find myself doing the same. She cares so much and has done so much for people with special needs in South Africa.

Sporting-wise, I would say Kay Reddy. She does so much and does it with a smile on her face. Casey [McNutt] is the same on Virgin Gorda. To have two ladies like that when you are starting a sport is fantastic.

Internationally, I have always been a big cricket fan. The South African team was always my idols growing up.

Do you have any goals when it comes to sports?

Yes, I just broke the two-hour mark in the half marathon. This was a big goal of mine. My most difficult goal is to finish the Tortola Torture by myself this year. I think it is 33 miles. It is a lot of hills and heat. I did a third of it last year.

What advice would you give someone who wants to take the same path as you?

My best advice is to just start. Whenever there is a task that seems too big or too out of your control, just start. That is the hardest part. Whatever it is in life, just start somewhere and hopefully you will be able to carry on and finish.

Interview conducted, condensed and edited by Todd VanSickle.