Unexpected water temperatures caught swimmers by surprise in Jeffreys Bay as the first ever BloodScan Jeffreys Bay Swim Challenge took place in 14 degree water.
Only 14 swimmers braved the cold water at Main Beach for the 4 K swim along the coast past the world famous surf break Supertubes.
Eventually 13 swimmers finished the swim, with five swimmers having to receive treatment from 24/7 paramedics for hyperthermia after negotiating rocks to get back onto the beach.
“When the water temp registered 14 degrees this morning before the swim, we thought there was something wrong with the thermometer and checked and rechecked the temp to make sure it was really 14 degrees”, said event organiser Brenton Williams.
With the event being swum according to English Channel Swim rules, the swimmers were not allowed to wear wetsuits.
“Suddenly the biggest risk changed from the danger of being caught by sets of waves at Supertubes, to the risk of swimmers getting cold in the water”, added Williams.
“Our water safety and back up support on the beach were excellent and at no stage were any of the swimmers in danger, although a few had to dig really deep to complete the swim”.
A small swell and a light cross wind greeted the swimmers as they entered the water for the unique swim which took them past some of the best surf breaks in South Africa. Supertubes is regarded as the finest right hand point break in the world.
Matt Stow, a visiting swimmer from Cape Town said that is was a classic swim and he really enjoyed the format.
“There were no position places, just Tshirts for those who finished, so all of us could really enjoy the swim and going past Supertubes was really special. I will be back next year for sure”.
Ralph West who was one of the swimmers treated for hyperthermia afterwards said, “It was really cold at the start and I battled to breathe at first. Then I settled down but got really cold towards the end. I don’t really remember much about the last 800 m of the swim but I am stoked I managed to finish”.
Lewis Khoury, the sponsor of the event said that he was blown away by the commitment of the open water swimmers.
“Watching some of the swimmers being carried up the beach to the ambulance was mind blowing. These guys are hard core and we are proud to be the sponsor of the BloodScan Jeffreys Bay Swim Challenge.
Next year the Swim Challenge will be opened to 25 swimmers, with slots being automatically allotted to the 13 swimmers who pioneered the swim this year.
The results of the 2012 BloodScan Jeffreys Bay swim Challenge:
J C Van Wyk 1 Hour 5 minutes
Kyle Harris 1: 12
Matt Stow 1:14
Kevin Grey 1:16
Rebecca Newman 1:24
Richden Jute 1: 24
Phil Weddell 1:30
Ralph West 1: 31
Buzz Friday 1: 31
Rebecca Baard 1:32
Brenton Williams 1:32 (butterfly)
Jan Du Plessis 1:48
Burget V/d Westhuizen 1:51