The 2014 Nelson Mandela Bay Bell Buoy Challenge held on Saturday 8th March in Algoa Bay will be remembered as a record breaking year which not only featured the highest number of entries for this unique swim but also the highest number of finishers and the oldest participant for the race.
Just over 100 participants entered the toughest 5km Indian Ocean swim which sees participants swim 2.5km directly out to sea around a cardinal marker buoy and back again in testing conditions.
Conditions on Saturday were extremely flat for the swimmers due to the moderate off-shore winds which assisted swimmers on the way out to the buoy ensuring that all participants reached the buoy in under 50 minutes.
Coming back wasn’t as easy with some swimmers taking over 2 hours 30 minutes to complete the second half of the race and one swimmer being withdrawn for not reaching the cut-off point in time as they swam against an outgoing tide and into the wind.
Nelson Mandela Bay Metropolitan University student Byron Locket lead from start to finish to become only the second Port Elizabeth winner of the swim, finishing in a fast time of 1:01:53 from 15 year old Dylan Smith and Pretoria swimming legend Gary Albertyn.
PE’s Kirsten Marriott finished the swimsuit category in 5th place overall in a time of 1:08:18 seconds to claim the ladies title from Genna Greevelink and Tammy Geyer whilst Gustav Lokotsch won the wetsuit race in a time of 1:04:34 from Miles Rosser and Jason Kalogeropoulos. 15 year old Amy Mardon won the wetsuit ladies category in 1:16:00 ahead of Natalie Goedhals and Idelette Olivier.
The oldest participant to ever complete the Bell Buoy Challenge is Rob Connacher who was 80 years and 3 days old on Saturday morning, placing 60th in the wetsuit category in a time of 2 hours 53 minutes.
Jeffreys Bay swimmer Brenton Williams completed his third consecutive Bell Buoy swim, just using the butterfly stroke. JC Van Wyk and Kendal Wright were the other two local swimmers who completed the Bell Buoy Challenge this year.
Full results from the swim are available on the website www.bellbuoychallenge.co.za with pictures available on www.facebook.com/bellbuoySwim.
The next swim in the Eastern Cape will be the Jeffreys Bay Cold Water Classic on 12 July at Marina Martinique.