But Karim worked hard. He got a job, saved money. After a few years, the New Zealand government sponsored his family, and his parents, brothers and sisters joined him in the country. In 2011, Karim bought his own house. “Now, New Zealand is my home,” he says. “To this day, I’m so grateful to be alive.”
Karim’s positive outlook is nothing short of inspirational – and that’s his aim.
“I started my craziness (participating in events) at the age of 34, 35. But in most sports, 35 is when people retire!” he says. “I had so many problems, I had depression. But swimming, keeping fit, talking to people, giving back – these are the things that help you come back to yourself. I feel stronger now than I did five years ago.”
Karim feels that doing these events, and raising money for important initiatives, has given him a new outlook on his life. “It’s given me back my confidence, my mental health, my toughness, the goosebumps, the sense of achievement,” he says. “You’re one person and you can touch so many people. And the power of community? I just love it.”
At the end of the day, Karim wants to inspire those around him to get up and give things a go. “I’m not the fittest person. I’m only 60 kilos. But I want people to look at me and say, if this guy can do it, I can do it too.”