The 2011 Cadiz Freedom swim was won by English Channel record holder Petar Stoychev in Cape Town on Sunday.
The race was held at Big Bay, on the western seaboard of South Africa in 11 – 13 degree water after the Robben Island crossing was called off due to extreme ocean conditions.
A difficult 9.3 Km course off the beach was held as an alternative swim after a support boat sunk due to big swell and strong winds off Robben Island on Saturday morning.
Brenton Williams became the first swimmer from Jeffreys Bay to complete the extreme swim and ended up finishing in 10th position after swimming for 2:30:00 in the icy conditions.
“It was a tough swim and all the swimmers had to pick themselves up after the Robben Island Crossing was cancelled the day before” said Brenton.
“The water was cold and there was quite a bit of chop in certain sections which made the swim challenging. Unfortunately, we had travelled down to do the Crossing and need to get back to Cape Town soon to complete the swim in the channel between Robben Island and Blouberg”.
Only 44 solo swimmers finished the swim with Kimberly Burrows bravely finishing the gruelling in 4 hours 30 minutes. The solo swimmers followed English Channel rules and swum wearing only goggles, a cap and a speedo costume.
Professional open water swimmer Trent Grimsey from Australia, who came second in the race, had this to say about the swim “”It was the hardest race I have ever done by far. I’ve never swum in anything this cold. I remember crossing the finish line and not much afterwards.”
Grimsey was one of the many swimmers treated for mild hyperthermia after the race.
The average age of the men who completed the swim was 37.3 years vs. the women at 27.6 years. Experience and mental strength play a large role in extreme swims which is why older swimmers do better in trying conditions like cold and big swells.
Ralph West, who took part in a relay team had a great swim and came 3rd in the wetsuit division of the race. West was the only Port Elizabeth based swimmer to complete the race.
The Kouga Swim Club will be holding the first event of inaugural Polar Bear Swim Series on 19 June at Marina Martinique. There will be 5 K, 3K, 1K and 500 m swims being held in cold water. Wetsuits will be allowed but not eligible for prizes