The Cape Long Distance Swimming Association is dedicated to offering information and news on open water swimming around Cape Town, with particular focus on solo swims in the sea.
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CLDSA Newsletter 32

My crazy love….

Thought it was about time to do a little post regarding my big passion that is Atlantic Open Water Swimming, seeing as though I have got the buzz back, starting to train properly again as well as complete my 3rd Robben Island Crossing to Big Bay a few weeks ago, since December 2015.

After not “hitting the sand” back in April 2015, in a distinctly cold, a little “shiver me timbers” Atlantic Ocean, my sights were set on going back for unfinished business with this nemesis of the Atlantic Ocean. It was a hurdle I had to get over and plagued my thoughts for the large part of 8 months. It doesn’t help living on the Atlantic Seaboard to give you visual daily reminders sent by the famous Robben Island.

I wanted to get out there again and complete this daunting task to turn it into a crazy but personally desirable achievement. I thought it was going to happen within a couple of weeks…..but it wasn’t to be. It was a frustrating wait that was going to last until December owing to water temperatures that never really got over 11/12 degrees. And there was no way I was going back out there for anymore of that! Those memories will always be fresh because…..well, it was that fresh…

However, the journey that those 8 months took me on, were unreal. Trying to keep fit through Winter, waiting for the ideal opportunity, really served me well. At the time I didn’t think that…. and many weekly trips to the “House of Pain” that is the Sea Point Pavilion, I would have preferred to have avoided. But, during probably one of the toughest years of my life, this swimming saved me and my love for AOS (Atlantic Open Water Swimming) exploded.

Some of the experiences I have had since doing this crazy thing, have honestly been out of this world, from another dimension, unreal, unimaginably uplifting and given me a very raw connection to nature. I could go into detail – well, I am - but all that really needs to be said is that, it kind of completes a crazy nature-loving soul……that likes water.

Around the time that December hit, it apparently was time to swim. The Ocean had spoken whether I was ready or not. It started my 5 from 5 and the following 8 months had achievements in store:


I came first in a swim race at Benguela Cove, Hermanus. Not far but very very windy with lots of chop but I felt good, so swam strong and won it.

JP and Derek


One week later, the ocean temp for the first time in a very long time rose to 14 to 16 degrees. No other choice but to try my 2nd attempt. I was pretty stiff from a swim during the week but nothing was going to stop me. First 3kms were a killer, especially trying to keep up with one of the best Open Water swimmers around, the beast that is Anthony Pearse.

          Anthony and JP     

Ann, Anthony and JP

After my first attempt, Anthony had said I was mad to have initially tried it in 9 to 11 degree water and that when I was ready he would go with me on my 2nd. It was very special being able to swim alongside such a champ and great guy. I, honestly, think he is a true machine (which I may have told him a few times) but so humble and easy-going, which made this experience the best. I was honored. The rest of the crew was made up of one of my best swimming buddies, an ex Springbok I will have you know, the mighty Ann Lamont, as our second. The evergreen and inspiring Tony Sellmeyer, who is a champion in his own right of these waters, and who was there to adjudicate and support. And my number 1 skipper, James Moore. Who had been with me for the first and was always going to man the boat for my 2nd attempt. At this point I must mention, he had some misty seas to guide us through while dodging cargo ships and some bigger boats. He did this with fine precision. There you go James.
After the 3kms, I seemed to just get into my stride. I realized where I was and that I was doing the thing I love. I felt loose and free and I just wanted to enjoy this unique experience. I loved it out there. I wanted to swim away from the boat further into the deep. Something I stumbled upon while doing the hard training yards, which gave me the freedom to entertain enjoying all of this and which has now become ingrained…was & is… “Just keep swimming”

Around the midway mark, we encountered a seal who was friendly at first. He introduced himself as Sammy and would not leave us alone. He was swimming right beneath us, and while I was remarkably calm (in the phenomenal deep blue zone), Ant thought he would attempt a one on one boxing match with the little guy. He eventually started darting at us from right beneath us, coming at pace with open mouth and fishy teeth. This dog of the sea became aggressive and at this point, we were treading water, not knowing what to do…. Eventually, we stopped next to the boat, heads out the water and he got bored and swum off.
The rest of the swim went without any hiccup and closing in on the point where I froze and got pulled out of the water on my 1st attempt, the Big Bay rocks, I became euphoric and was in my element - I knew I was going to do it. I actually knew at the start I was going to do it. There was no way I was getting onto that boat again…… Sand was the goal, not a space blanket on a boat with no manhood, pretty much physically and mentally. But, after those initial 3kms, I knew I would be hitting the sand!! And here I was, the last kilometer. That feeling of ecstasy, smiling in the water, knowing I was about to get this monkey off my back and that I was finally going to get there! Wow! What a high!
We conquered it, we battled this mighty nemesis and won. Ant held my arm up and I was elated. Unbelievable. I did it. Time 2.06.
The crew celebrating at Big Bay


In the days that followed my crossing, I was on such a high and considering the water was like a bath, at 15/16 degrees, and conditions were sublime, my other swimming buddy, Monika Hayes, talked me into swimming Llandudno to Camps Bay. It was a short 5 days but I was just feeling so great and had to make the most of Neptune’s December social invitations. I managed to talk my proper swimming training partner into it, Dean Noik aka D1, and the 3 of us went for it, with 24 hours notice. His shoulders were a little tight and Mon was not as fit, but they were fully game to accept the invitations, too. This is a 9.5 km swim. You go far out from Llandudno beach around 1km, and then swim in towards Camps Bay, while admiring The 12 Apostles. To say we were blessed for the swim, is an understatement!!

JP, Monika and Dean on Llundudno Beach       

Dean, Monika and JP on Camps Bay Beach  

Again, the first 3kms were a struggle. I thought to myself, what the hell were you thinking JP.. How could you think you were going to be able to do this swim, after the RI crossing just a few days, earlier.. you definitely got ahead of yourself here champ, and way too wishful thinking. I felt spent. The sentinel peak situated between Hout Bay and Llandudno sat over my right shoulder and was not going anywhere and not getting any smaller. Then we hit “turbulence” just off the coast outside of Llandudno, which felt like the inside of a washing machine. I never get sea sick, but this is the one time I have experienced that feeling that other Open Water  swimmers had told me about. 
Thereafter, well, what can I say…… Pure Bliss! This was absolute perfection for me. It was as if Heaven had been brought down to Earth for the day. The water was calm, it was 16 degrees and clear as anything. I felt strong, like I belonged out there and didn’t want to get back on land. The scenery was sensational with The 12 Apostles watching us steadily go by while Lions Head lay ahead. I mean, I don’t think there is a more beautiful swim then this if the conditions are right. Swimming with Monika and Dean was awesome and I was just so happy to be out there, enjoying it with them and being so fortunate to be able to experience… that swim, that day. I did not want to stop swimming. I didn’t want Camps Bay to come. I could have kept on swimming all day…… and to this day, nothing has come close to it…..An overwhelming sensation.
Derrick Frazer guided us through the final white water around Camps Bay, and we hit the sand, all safe and sound. An epic day with an epic team.


Tony’s 50th crossing – I got a late call up off the bench to jump into the water by Bernie Sellmeyer, Tony’s son, to join the legend Tony Sellmeyer on his monumental 50th Robben Island crossing. It was around 3 days notice but around my birthday, where the year before I froze and fell short. Just had to be a part of the great occasion and Monika Hayes persuasion tactics may have played a part. Monika Hayes, Heinrich and myself in the water, Dean Noik on the boat. What a great day out there. Water was sublime but around 13 and I felt like I could keep on swimming. Came in and hit the beach around 2.18 hours. So glad to be a part of Tony’s awesome day. A mentor of note, I might add.
Heinrich, Andrew, Monika, JP, Keitha, TONY, Hazel, Scott, Mel, Kevin, Motti and Meri


Jay’s First crossing – This was definitely a close second in terms of a challenging swim, behind my first attempt. An old school friend, Jay Azran, had been wanting to attempt a crossing for a couple of years, and was My crazy love….

JP and Jay at Robben Island          


We are looking for your story, together with pictures, to put into our newsletter. 

Thanks to Steve Kromberg for his RI pictures.

Giving back

Arafat Gatabazi and the The Granadilla Swimming Academy, check out his BLOG to see how you can help.
Copyright © 2015 CLDSA, All rights reserved.

Our mailing address is:
21 Bales Rd
Cape Town, WC 8001
South Africa

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Copyright © 2015 CLDSA, All rights reserved.

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21 Bales Rd
Cape Town, WC 8001
South Africa

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Cape Long Distance Swimming Association · 21 Bales Rd · Claremont · Cape Town, WP 8001 · South Africa

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