The African continent is the land of extremes. From Cape Town to Cairo, from Ghana to Kenya, the differences in the continent’s open water swims are vast. The marine life ranges from hippos to Great White Sharks and the events take place in dams, rivers and along its countless majestic coastlines. Races range from hugely enormous (Midmar Mile) to quaintly small.

The Shell Festival Sea Swim in Jeffreys Bay, South Africa is an example of one of the smaller events.

This September, big waves, strong winds and currents and 16°C water did little to deter the 12 swimmers who took part in the 2.5 km course near the Magnatubes surf break. Under the watchful eye of the Jeffreys Bay National Sea Rescue Institute, the swimmers negotiated a large set of waves at the start and quickly discovered why surfers call the spot Boneyards. The strong winds never let up from the start to the finish at Main Beach, adding another dimension of challenge.

Port Elizabeth swimmers PJ Duffey and Siegfried Lokotsch crossed the finish line together in a time of 38:05 with Jeffreys Bay swimmer Caro de Jager the first woman home in 41:35. 12-year-old Rebecca Baard from Jeffreys Bay was the youngest swimmer to take part in the inaugural, very rough water Shell Festival Sea swim.

“”Going through the beach break was scary as we got caught in a big set, but some of the other swimmers stayed right next to me. We managed to get under the huge waves. After that the rest of the swim seemed quite easy and I settled down and enjoyed the race’, said the precocious Baard.

““It was an awesome swim. I will be back next year for sure”,” said Duffey, who enjoyed the opportunity to swim in and out of some world-class surf breaks that were pumping.

Later, the swimmers could not get enough after their turbulent ride in the ocean. They met at Marina Martinique in the afternoon for a choice of a Mile, Double Mile or Triple Mile swim in the Martinique canals’ calmer, warmer (18°C) waters. Cape Town swimmer Buff Van Westernbrugge was the only one to take on the challenge of the Triple Mile after his earlier battle in the sea.

Caro De Jager capped a great day of swimming by winning the Mile in 26:48, with Richden Jute taking first in the Double Mile in 49:41 over Ralph West (50:40).

Jeffreys Bay Shell Festival Sea Swim results:

1. PJ Duffey and Siegfried Lokotsch: 38:05
3. Buff Van Westernbrugge: 41:30
4. Caro de Jager: 41:35
5. Kevin Grey: 41:45
6. Rebecca Newman: 46:21
7. Richden Jute: 46:25
8. Ralph West: 51:35
9. Kendal Wright: 55:35
10. Isabeau Joubert: 1:01:35
11. Brenton Williams (butterfly) 1:01:40
12. Rebecca Baard: 1:01:55

Photo is courtesy of Clive Wright.

Copyright © 2012 by Open Water Source


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