Thirty-five years after completing his first crossing from Cape Town to Robben Island, the feat of finally finishing his 100th journey is a memory he will always treasure, swimmer Theodore Yach said on Tuesday.
After entering 13-degree waters, the 58-year-old took on the 10.4km route shortly before 08:00 from Three Anchor Bay.
Faced with a strong current and icy surf, he completed the crossing in three hours and 10 minutes.
“I felt relieved when I finished,” he told News24 once he had warmed up with a shower, cup of tea and a sandwich.
“It was a tough route, but seeing my wife and sons waiting for me made me very happy.”
Yach, who trains five days a week – swimming 22km and doing a day of weight training – said he remembered his maiden voyage to the landmark very well.
Among his boat crew in 1981 was then-president of the Cape Long Distance Swimming Association, Peter Bales, who fulfilled the same duty on Tuesday.
Yach said his latest swim was the culmination of a 35-year goal.
“With every stroke, I told myself to keep my head under water.” This was to keep him motivated by not focussing on how far it was to land, he explained.
“About 75% [of the feat] is focusing on the mental aspect. I don’t wear a wetsuit. I do this in a Speedo, so beating the cold is critical.”
Yach’s 100th crossing means he is now recognised in the international open-water swimming hall of fame.
Six other swimmers – Toni Enderli, Kieron Palframan, Ryan Stramrood, Mark De Klerk, Buff van Westenbrugge and Dean Noik – also took part in Tuesday’s swim.
Funds were raised through the swim for six charities: the Children’s Hospital Trust, Paper Video, NSRI Waterwise Project, Wynberg Boys’ School’s Aquatic Centre, Highlands House and the Herzlia Foundation Trust.
Donations can still be made via www.centurycrossing.co.za.