Icy water and sunny skies for Cold Water Swim Classic

The JBay Winterfest continued over the weekend despite the Corona Open JBay being placed on hold as over 50 swimmers took on the challenge of completing the Cold Water Swim Classic presented by Nicholas Melck.

The 12 C water at Marina Martinique was always going to take its toll, with four swimmers having to withdraw from the event due to hypothermia, while 54 swimmers managed to finish one of the most extreme events in South Africa.

With an air temperature of 19 C, conditions on land were a stark contrast to the icy water that awaited swimmers from all over South Africa who descended upon Jeffreys Bay to take part in the Cold Water Classic.

Only three swimmers entered the costume division of the triple mile, an official Robben Island crossing qualifying swim, with Port Elizabeth veteran PJ Duffy winning the men’s section, while Pretoria’s Megan Albertyn won the the women’s division.

“What an awesome experience! I can’t believe I haven’t done the Cold Water Classic before – will definitely be back next year,” said Albertyn after her swim.

Jeffreys Bay swimmer JC Van Wyk won the double mile while Paige Black won the women’s section of the event.

12 year old East London swimmer Mbali Vellum in his first cold water swim had to tough it out to complete the double mile and in the process the award for the youngest male participant on the day.

Event owner Brenton Williams said it was a hard swim for Mbali and the 12 year old had to dig deep to finish.

“We noticed Mbali from the safety boat after he completed his first mile loop and decided to keep an eye on him.

Initially it looked like he was really battling with the cold but his stroke was consistent and we decided to give him every opportunity to complete his swim.

The Cold Water Classic is all about challenging oneself and Mbali did exactly that and didn’t falter throughout his swim,” said Williams.

cold water classic jbay winterfest open water swim corona open jbay
Mbali Vellum sights during the double mile. Photo: Kody Mcgregor

“The water was very very cold but I really wanted to finish the double mile,” said Mbali after his courageous swim.

“My goggles kept leaking and I was stopping to fix them and the guys on the boat were always encouraging me to keep swimming and that I was doing well”.

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Hannah Counihan from Port Elizabeth won the women’s mile while Peter Michaelides from Knysna won the men’s division.

The swimsuit category winners each won a pair of Oakley sunglasses.

The triple mile wetsuit division was won by legendary waterman Kevin Richards while Jenny Potts won the women’s division.

Gary Albertyn won the double mile and keeping it in the family, his daughter Kaitlyn won the women’s race.

Michael Fairall and Suzie du Plessis won the mile wetsuit event.

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“Near perfect conditions for the swim resulted in a record breaking entry field, once again highlighting the Marina as one of Africa’s top open water swimming venues.” said Mike Zoetmulder of Zsports Events NPC.

“Next year the venue will host both the SA National Openwater Swimming Championships and the SA Masters Openwater Swimming Championships with the popular Marina Mile coming up on the 30th December.”

The Cold Water Classic was sponsored by Nicholas Melck, Oakley sunglasses, Marina Wharf, Newton Johnson wine, Island Tribe and Bio Plus and formed part of the annual JBay Winterfest.

Full results can be found at:


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