The third leg of the Kouga Express EPA Swim Challenge Series takes place this weekend at Marina Martinique. The event kicks off with the gruelling 10 km swim on Saturday afternoon. This swim is the distance swam at the Olympic Games and Marina Martinique is the perfect venue to stage a challenging swim of this nature.
Athletes need physical and mental stamina to complete the 10 km which is slowly but surely becoming regarded as a sprint event in the fledgling sport of open water swimming. “Each season the boundaries are being pushed a bit further”, explains Brenton Williams, the coach of the Kouga Swim Club. “Just a few years ago, the traditional mile swims like the Midmar, Redhouse and Marina Mile, were the long distance open water swim events”.
The 3 km and the 5 km events were introduced about six years ago in South Africa, following a worldwide trend that eventually saw the 10 km swim become accepted as an Olympic event at the 2008 Beijing Games. In January this year, the 10 km was established as a regular event in the Eastern Cape and the swim is now held at least five times a year at Marina Martinique.
Recognising that the Marina is a unique venue for open water swimming, the Kouga Swim Club will be staging a 25 km swim as part of the Steers Marina Mile this year. Swims in the Marina take place in protected sea water canals which offer shelter from wind, currents and predators mean that swimmers can test themselves and not be overly concerned with safety issues that present themselves when in the ocean or big dams.
While the competitive side of open water swimming revolves around the shorter distances, the attraction of the sport lies in taking on bigger challenges like the English Channel which is a 32 km swim. South Africa does not have channels and straits for swimmers to cross but other opportunities have been identified by open water pioneers like Theodore Yach who attempted a 35 km swim from Hout Bay to Robben Island on the west coast of Cape Town. Yach had to abandon the swim after two hours due to adverse weather conditions but will make another attempt soon.
On Sunday morning the Kouga Express EPA Swim Challenge Series will resume with the 5 km and 3 km taking to the water, followed by the increasingly popular 500m and bank to bank swims. The 1 km swim which is a perfect training swim for the Steers Marina Mile will end the event. Should you be contemplating doing the Mile, then this swim will give you a good indication of how much training still needs to be done to swim the slightly longer and more challenging Mile.
Entries can be completed online at www.ecswim.co.za while entries for the various events at the Steers Marina Mile can be done at Steers Marina Mile