Fortune favoured the brave in Cape Town last week as Jeffreys Bay swimmer Abriella Bredell successfully swam the notorious channel from Robben Island to Cape Town on 12 January 2018.
Having gone on standby from 29 December, it was a tense wait for the right conditions to attempt to take on one of the most significant swims in the world of open water swimming – Robben Island.
Water temperatures of sub 15 C, treacherous currents, a busy shipping lane, kelp beds, abundant wildlife and wind were some of the challenges the 11 year old Bredell had to face in her quest to become the youngest female to ever cross the 7.6 km channel from Robben Island to Blouberg beach.
The experienced Derrick Frazer, boatman for the swim, called it on for early on the morning of 12 January and Abriella met up with her swim coach and mentor Brenton Williams at the Big Bay Surf Lifesaving Clubhouse to have a final check of the conditions.
The water temperature of 14 C was just what the swimmers wanted, although there was a heavy mist hanging over Robben Island and strong winds predicted for later in the day.
It was decided to attempt the swim, and while travelling on the boats to Robben Island, the mist lifted and it was all systems go for the swim, which Abriella was utilising to raise funds for the Red Cross Children’s Hospital.
The swimmers left Robben Island around 8 am and had near perfect conditions for a crossing with the water temperature remaining between 14- 15 C, light winds, no major currents and nice sunny skies.
They quickly got into a rhythm and only stopped to hydrate during the three hours it took them to swim to Blouberg beach.
“It was a bit cold at the Island but the water warmed up as we swam and I really enjoyed the swim,” said Abriella afterwards.
“This has been a goal of mine for nearly three years and we have trained constantly for the past two years to make the dream become a reality and to raise funds for the Red Cross Childrens Hospital,” added Bredell.
Her coach Brenton Williams said he was extremely proud of the young swimmer and had no doubt that Bredell would complete the swim.
“We have a philosophy in open water swimming of train hard and swim easy when attempting a big swim.
Abriella did all the hard work in training and two swims in particular toughed her up for Robben Island, namely the Cold Water Classic where she swam three miles in 13 C water during the JBay Winterfest and then the Clifton – 3 Anchor Bay swim in October where she did 5 km in 12 C water.”
She now joins the ranks of Eastern Cape legends of Robben Island like Williams, who holds a record for being the first man to swim butterfly from Cape Town to Robben Island, as well as Port Elizabeth based swimmer Mark Edge, who held the record for the fastest Robben Island crossing for close to 20 years.
Another Jeffreys Bay swimmer, JC Van Wyk also took advantage of the pristine conditions at Robben Island last Friday to successfully complete his 10th crossing.
Bredell will take a bit of a break from the rigours of swim training and will focus other school sports like netball and athletics during 2018 while she contemplates her next big challenge.
Donations can still be made to the Red Cross Children’s Hospital. Visit her website www.abriellabredell.co.za for more information.