Jeffreys Bay Swim Challenge set to test open water swimmers

There would not be many takers to surf Jeffreys Bay in late April wearing just boardshorts. In fact year round, most surfers would opt to wear wetsuits when surfing Supertubes, regarded as one of the best waves in the world.

Swimmers will be passing the world class Supertubes surf break during the first ever Jeffreys Bay Swim Challenge.

This could change as for the first time ever, a group of open water swimmers will take to the water in Jeffreys Bay wearing only a speedo type costume, goggles and a swim cap.

Comfortable in their own skin, the 20 swimmers will start an epic swim from Kitchen Windows and hug the coast down to Supertubes and then onto the Point for a swim of around 4 km on Saturday morning.

According to English Channel rules, swimmers may not wear wetsuits or use any other swimming aids.

The additional challenge facing the extreme swimmers will be negotiating the white water and rocks when finishing the swim at Lower Point, the venue for the Bloodscan Surf Challenge taking place over the weekend.

“We are excited to include the Bloodscan Jeffreys Bay Swim Challenge as part of the event and to see how the swimmers deal with the ocean conditions in Jeffreys Bay”, said event sponsor Lewis Khoury.

“Open water swimmers are part of the ocean community and hosting a swim as part of the surf contest is a perfect fit”, added Khoury.

There is an experienced field taking part in the first ever JBay Swim Challenge and all the swimmers have solid open water pedigrees.

Ralph West, JC Van Wyk, Greg Tucker and Brenton Williams are part of the sextet of swimmers who set a new world record of 350 km for a continual open water relay swim in March, have all confirmed their entries. Rebecca Newman, the Eastern Province 25 km champion will also be taking part in the swim.

The youngest entrant is 12 year old Jeffreys Bay swimmer Rebecca Baard who had a good season of ocean swims in Port Elizabeth as well as a few 5 km open water swims under the belt.

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Brenton Williams who is one of the few swimmers to have swum the Jeffreys Bay coastline, says that the swim will be demanding because swimmers will have to come in over rocks to finish and will also have to time the sets to avoid getting caught in white water.

“It will be a unique swim as we will be starting at Kitchen Window surf break, then swimming past Magnatubes, Boneyards and Supetubes to finally end at the Point. Swimming past some world class surf breaks will be something special”.

Swimmers will have to take care not to hug the coast too closely and risk being caught by waves at the surf breaks.

“There will be experienced surfers paddling with the swimmers to help negotiate the various surf breaks” said Williams who will be the only swimmer using only the butterfly stroke for the entire swim.

The NSRI will provide water safety for the Jeffreys Bay Swim Challenge

The swim will start at Main Beach at 8 am and spectators will be able to walk along the beach and watch the swimmers for the entire route. An excellent vantage spot will be the Whale Watch lookout at Tubes to watch the final part of the swim.

NSRI will provide water safety and good conditions are expected for the swim. “A light South West wind and a smallish swell is being predicted”, said Reichardt Janse van Rensburg, the base commander of the Jeffreys Bay NSRI and the man in charge of water safety for the event.

Another unique aspect of the swim is that there will be no prizes for the winners. Instead each swimmer who completes the swim will be given a Tshirt and there will be lucky draw prizes as well.

It is fitting that Jeffreys Bay, discovered in the 1960’s and long known as the home of the perfect wave, will now play host to the new breed of extreme ocean users – the open water swimmers!

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