US$15,000 To The Winners Of This Open Water Race

US$15,000 To The Winners Of This Open Water Race

Entries to the Cadiz Freedom Swim in Cape Town, South Africa are now open. Sign up fast.

This year, the organizers are really stepping up and providing a large pot of prize money – for elite swimmers, masters swimmers and relays – at the end of the world’s most extreme cold water competition.

The event starts at Robben Island, a historic location in South Africa’s struggle for democracy, and finishes in Big Bay.

The finish at Big Bay is appropriately named because of the size of the prize money and media coverage.

After starting on Robben Island, a World Heritage Site where Nelson Mandela was imprisoned for 18 years, swimmers face cold water 9-14°C (48.2°°-57.2°F) and marine life across the 7.5K stretch of water that can become rough.

Not only is there US$10,000 for the overall winner, but also US$5,000 to the first overall team.

Additionally, the prize money goes well beyond first place. The first solo male and female swimmers will each receive R10,000 (US$1,459), the second solo male and female swimmers will each receive R5,000 (US$730), the third solo male and female swimmers will each receive: R3,000 (US$438).

Sponsored prizes will be given to the first male and female swimmers over the ages of 30, 40, 50, the first junior swimmer, the second and third non-wetsuit relay teams, the first, second and third wetsuit teams, the first corporate team, and the first, second and third school teams.

The Cadiz Freedom Swim can be a tough swim for 7.5K from Robben Island to Blouberg, Cape Town not only for the cold water, but also for the strong, unpredictable currents.

Swimmers can compete in two categories, either solo or relay, under two different sets of rules: either traditional (swimsuit + swim cap only) rules or wetsuit rules. Swimmers must be 15 years or older and the entire field is limited to first 120 entrants due to logistical and safety purposes. All solo swimmers are accompanied by a motorized support boat. Two swimmers may share a boat and experienced Robben Island swimmers may seek permission to be accompanied by a kayak.

The relay teams, which will be accompanied by a motorized support boat, can consist of two, three or four swimmers in the open division (no wetsuits), the open wetsuit division (one or more members of the team wear a wetsuit), the corporate relay division (wetsuits optional) or the schools relay (with wetsuits for swimmers between the ages of 12 and 18)

Extreme swimmer Ram Barkai organizes and hosts the swim as the swim committee chairman which has secured major sponsorship from the Cadiz Financial Services Group and serves as a charity event for the Vista Nova School.

The swim has grown each year with over 400 swimmers expected in 2011. There is a high level of media interest in the swim, including international and national television and press coverage, largely because of its extreme nature,” explained Andrew Chin. “Our intention is to grow the relay category which attracts teams from schools, universities, corporates and sporting clubs. There is also a wetsuit division within the relay component for swimmers less accustomed to very cold conditions. We also expect up to 40 development swimmers in 2011 which is a direct result of the work of the Cadiz Open Water Swimming Development Trust.”

The swim is scheduled for May 7th, but unpredictable weather and sea conditions and past history dictate a contingency date of May 8th is necessary. All swimmers, escort boat personnel and supporters must prepare for both days.

Everyone involved must adhere strictly to all rules and regulations,” explained Andrew. “The cold Atlantic Ocean poses a real physical threat to swimmers no matter how fit they are. There are qualifying requirements for entry and all swimmers must pay particular attention to the information on hypothermia provided by the organizing committee. This event requires massive logistical and organizational input with safety being the primary concern.”

The safety considerations, the large amount of prize money, the development of young swimmers, significant media exposure, strict qualification standards for the swimmers, the massive operational deployment of staff and volunteers, the historical significance of the course, the beauty of the venue and the inherent challenges of the swim are all reasons why the Cadiz Freedom Swim is one of the world’s greatest open water swims.

There is no need to wait. Within a day of posting the race online, 32 swimmers have already signed up for the total available 120 spots.

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