Open Water swim training at Marina Martinique

November 14, 2013

The JBay open water swimmers are training at Marina Martinique on Tuesday and Thursday evenings at 5.45 pm.

the start

The meeting place is the gate at the old shark aquarium on a Tuesday and Thursday at the beach near the Infood Blu Café.

Open water and stroke techniques will be practised as well as fitness training. Longer open water swims will also be held once the fitness level of a swimmer can handle the distance.

Swimmers will learn how to sight, to pace themselves and to swim in groups.

The cost is R 300 per month and queries can be sent to

There is limited availability for learn to swim and squad training during November with Brentons Swim School at Edge Fitness Club.

Queries can also be sent to


The Tale of 3 Swims

August 12, 2013

When it became clear that without serious backing, it would be impossible to hold the annual Freedom Swim from Robben Island to Big Bay, event organiser Ram Barkai came up with another intriguing possibility in 2013 – Llundudno to Camps Bay.

Freedom swim

This 9 K stretch of Western Cape coastline must be rated among the best in the world, with water almost guaranteed to be sub 15 degrees, the measure of what cold water is in South Africa.

Throw in a view of the 12 Apostles and the opportunity to do a swim I had never done before,saw me arrive with lots of excitement in Cape Town on the Thursday 25 April to attend the race briefing for the new look Freedom Swim.

The wind direction was looking good for the swim but a big ground swell was approaching the coast. Martin Vleggaar, a respected swimmer and surfer from Cape Town bailed on Friday to go surfing further up the West Coast as he believed the waves would be epic.

The swell did kick in with a 6-8 foot beach break pounding at Llundudno and Camps Bay was big and washy on the Saturday morning of the swim.

There was big swell at Camps Bay.

There was big swell at Camps Bay.

Derrick Frazer, the best open water safety man in South Africa, and Ram had to make the call to cancel the Freedom swim as there were very serious safety issues.

Some of the experienced sea swimmers would probably have got through the beach break at Llundudno, while some of the safety paddlers on Malibu boards would also have battled to make it to the back line.

Having big paddle boards flying around in the white water and swimmers being hammered by a huge shore break, would simply have been too risky and the right call was made to cancel the swim.

There were big waves breaking over the rocks at the back of Camps Bay which was a good indication of just how much swell was around.

The bay itself proved to be non-swimmable when the organisers tried to hold the 800m swim in a revised Freedom swim format. Most of the swimmers had to pulled out of the water by the safety crew so the longer swim was cancelled as well.

All was not lost however, when Ryan Stramrood invited me to join him and Kieron Palframen on a Round Cape Point swim on the upcoming Wednesday.

The long range conditions looked perfect for a seldom attempted swim which starts at Dias Beach, goes around Cape Point into False Bay and then ends at Buffels Bay, a distance of 8.5 K.

Only 18 swimmers had ever swum around Cape Point, with American swimmer Lynne Cox being the first to complete the swim in 1977.

Ryan and Kieron are both highly competent swimmers and I knew that I would have to switch to freestyle to be able to keep up with them going around Cape Point which caused the nerves to kick in even more. The last time I had swim freestyle was about 3 months before, with all my training being butterfly.


Facebook proved its worth when Angela Lurssen suddenly asked me on Monday morning to join her on a Robben Island to Blouberg crossing that very morning.

Half an hour later I was at Big Bay to meet Angela and Derrick Frazer who was the boat man and officiator from the Cape Long Distance Swim Association (CLDSA).

Conditions were not ideal for the swim. There was quite a bit of side chop on the surface and there was still some swell around from the weekend. However, the water was 14 – 14.5 degrees so at least the water was “warm”.

Angela Lurssen and Brenton Williams with Table Mountain in the background.

Angela Lurssen and Brenton Williams with Table Mountain in the background.

Angela had the unfortunate experience of being pulled out of the water less than 2 k from Blouberg a year prior, due to a 3m Great White becoming too inquisitive.

Angela needed to do the Robben Island crossing and as she had to fly back to the UK, time was not on her side.
She made the call to swim and we left Robben Island little knowing what was in store for us.

The early stages went well and we settled down nicely and even had seals swimming next to us for a while. A video clip of the seals can be viewed here

However, as the swim progressed it became clear we were in quite a strong current that was pushing us towards Melkbos Strand.

It got to the stage where we would were being pushed 300m sideways for every 700m we were swimming forward.
Eventually we decided to just go with the current and deal with the beach break when we got to it, wherever it was that we got back to land.

3 hours 37 minutes after we left Robben Island, Angela and I staggered onto the beach, both very happy to see Debbie Frazer had found us and was bringing blankets.

Angela showed the courage that had seen her cross the English Channel and complete the Port Elizabeth Iron Man by swimming the RI Crossing in very testing conditions and overcoming all the shark thoughts in her mind.


On Tuesday, the Cape Point swim got wobbly as we couldn’t find an observer from CLDSA to officiate the swim.

Ram, Toks Viviers and Monika Hayes were also booked to swim Cape Point on Wednesday and I got hold of them to see if I could join in.

However, the CLDSA has a rule that only 3 swimmer per boat were allowed so that counted me out.

My Cape Point Swim was off but then Monika Hayes contacted me on Tuesday evening and graciously gave her swim to me.
Ram, Toks and I met just before 7 am at the Cape Point Nature Reserve and drove down to Buffels Bay.

Conditions were looking good as the sun rose over the ocean at the edge of False Bay.

After launching at Buffels Bay, we rode in the boat towards Cape Point. The water in False Bay was 13 degrees and after we rounded the majestic Cape Point, the water dropped below 13 so we knew we were going to be swimming into warmer water as we swam back around the Point.

Cape Point

It’s a special section of coastline between the Cape of Good Hope and Cape Point.

Historically sailors had searched for it for centuries and here we were, 3 guys in speedos, goggles and swim caps and we attempting to swim around Cape Point and into False Bay.

The small waves at Dias Beach were powerful and even though they weren’t more than waist high, they had the power to tumble us if caught unawares.

The first part of the swim from Dias Beach to Cape Point was almost surreal for me. The cliffs around Cape Point are majestic and we stopped at the Point to have a good look when we got there.

Once we rounded Cape Point, we were in warmer water and conditions remained good for the first while.

Then we got stuck in a current that came directly at us. It became really tough for a while but luckily all 3 of us are experienced ocean swimmers and we put our heads down and did what was required.

Eventually Buffels Bay got closer and we swam into the kelp bed with a sense of relief that the swim was in the bag. It took 3 hours 13 minutes to complete the swim.

It was Ram’s second Round Cape Point swim and the first for Toks and me. It is definitely a swim I would love to swim again.

By: Brenton Williams

New cold water swim in Cape Town

April 14, 2012

With increasing numbers of cold water swimming enthusiasts, a new organised swim from Clifton Fourth Beach to Three Anchor Bay has been launched.

The Atlantic Dash, a distance of 5.4km, is already fully subscribed and will be tackled by 30 swimmers on Sunday, April 15.

It is hoped the race will develop into a bi-annual event. The group training swim has been organised by respected businessman and dedicated cold water swimmer Theodore Yach, who feels the beauty of the route makes it one of the most scenic in Cape Town.

Yach has done the Cape Town to Robben Island swim more than 60 times and hopes that the Atlantic Dash will become a feeder event for swimmers wanting to train for this “bucket list” swim.

“What makes the Atlantic Dash unique is that we invite spectators and pedestrians to walk the route along the promenade and follow the swimmers. Support crew, media and the swimmers also have stunning views of Table Mountain and Signal Hill at the same time,” says Yach.

Another unique factor of the race is its friendliness to the environment – all support boats will be lifesavers on paddle crafts, instead of motorised boats.

A team of nurses and a doctor will be on standby for any injuries and to ensure no swimmers have hypothermia upon exiting the sea.

“This is the birth of what will hopefully become one of the top swims on the Cape Town calendar.” The swim starts at 10am at Clifton Fourth Beach.

J Bay swimmers at Redhouse River Mile

February 21, 2012

Congratulations to all the swimmers who took part in the Redhouse River Mile. Mally Richards swam his 59th Mile, while Brenton Williams became the first man ever to complete the Mile swimming butterfly. Caro de Jager came 9th in the women’s race.

Phil Weddel, Danie Rautenbach, Seth, Erin and Rencke de Swart as well as Malan Steenkamp all swam the Mile.
The next open water swim event is on 4 March at Marina Martinique. Entries can be done online at

Rotary Swim-a-Thon

Join us at Training Edge Gym on Saturday 25 February at 1 pm for the Rotary eradicate polio campaign and help set a world record in the process.

Entry fee is R 50 and all you have to do is swim 100 m to become part of the attempt to have the most swimmers completing a 100 m swim in a hour across the world.

We encourage all our swimmers to come and join in this initiative on Saturday at the Gym.

The pristine canals of Marina Martinique - home of the JBay Swim and the Marina Mile swim event. The Mile now forms part of an expanded EP Open Water Swim Series.

Marina Martinique Swim

Following a number of complaints about the early morning swim training, we have had to make the following changes:
From March we will be swimming on Tuesday and Thursday in the evenings at 6 pm. We will still be meeting at the gate as usual.

Swimmers may still swim on other days between 4.30 pm – 6.30 pm from Kingston Place flats. All swimmers are welcome to join JBay Swim and attend our training sessions at Marina Martinique. They will need to pay a registration fee of R 300 which will entitle them to a JBay Swim t-shirt and swim cap.

Application forms can be obtained from Isabeau Joubert reception at JBay Dentist in Schelde Road.

C League Gala

There is a C league gala at the Sunridge Park Primary School in Port Elizabeth on Saturday 25 February. All swimmers who have not taken part in a B league gala may swim in this event. Please be at the Sunridge pool by 8 am at the latest to enter.

Swim fees

Please note that swim fees are payable in advance. There was an extraordinary amount of bad debt in 2011 and all parents and swimmers are urged to play the game and pay when the invoice is received.
Money can be deposited by EFT and please use the swimmers name as reference.

See you in the water!!

Lots of swim action in Jeffreys Bay

February 8, 2012

It has been a busy start to the year for Jeffreys Bay swimmers with Caro de Jager and JC van Wyk both being selected for the Eastern Province Open Water Swim team. De Jager and Van Wyk are the current EP 1 km champions after winning the event at the EP Champs at Marina Martinique last weekend.

J’Bay swimmers will also be taking part in the Rotary Global swimathon which will take place at the Training Edge gym on 25 February. Everyone is welcome to join in and swim 100 m to become part of an effort to make the Guinness Book of Records for the most people swimming 100 m at one time.

Entry forms can be obtained from the Gym and 6 lucky swimmers stand the chance of winning a R 1000 voucher from Training Edge which includes a free gym membership and personal training advice.

There are a few slots still open for children who need to learn how to swim. Lessons take place in an indoor heated pool at the Training Edge Gym. Find out more information by emailing

Enter now for the Steers Marina Mile

December 12, 2011

SA extreme swimmers to cross Bering Straight

December 10, 2011

Ram Barkai, Kieron Palframan, Ryan Stramrood and Andrew Chin are South African open water swimmers who became the first men to swim around the tip of South America.

Ram Barkai is a cold water swimmer from Cape Town.

Together with Toks Viviers, they did three swims in rough water, against strong currents and in water between 3.9°C and 8°C.

The three swims were: 4.5 K across the Strait of Magellan, 3.2 K double crossing of the Beagle Channel and 2.5 K around Cape Horn.

The South African cold water specialists will be joined by the following swimmers in their next cold water expedition:

Rafal Ziobro (Poland), Zdenek Talmicka and Petr Tomasek (Czech Republic), Jack Bright (United Kingdom), Nuala Moore and Anne Marie Ward (Ireland), Alexander Brylin (Russia), Paolo Chiarino (Italy) and Anna-Carin Nordin (Sweden) have all committed to the 86 K (53 mile) relay crossing of the entire width of the Bering Strait.

The Bering Straight separates Russia from the America’s and the water will be below 4 degrees Celsius for the swim.

The crossing is planned for 18 July – 10 August 2012. The swimming relay starts on the Cape Dezhnev (Russia) and finishes on the Cape Prince of Wales (USA)

How cold is cold?

December 1, 2011

There are two main frontiers in the world of open water swimming. One of those frontiers is how far can be swam and the other is how cold can the water be.

In South Africa, the cold debate was largely irrelevant outside of Cape Town but with more and more swimmers attempting swims like Robben Island, the question of how cold is cold has become increasingly topical.

Since open water swimming starting in Jeffreys Bay in the mid 1990’s, perceptions about how cold is cold have changed quite dramatically.

For many years open water swimming stopped towards the end of March when the canal water temperature dropped below 20 degrees C and only started again in October, once the 20 degree mark was breached.

That all changed in 2011 as Jeffreys Bay swimmers began training for Robben Island swims and suddenly water of 12 – 13 degrees C was sought after, with swimmers coming through from Port Elizabeth to swim in the chilly canals.

13 degree water at Marina Martinique in winter.

Daily News of Open Water Swimming reported on a poll conducted among open water swimmers about how cold is cold. The results were:

Under 5ºC (41ºF) – 0%
Under 10ºC (50ºF) – 7%
Under 12.5°C (54.5°F) – 14%
Under 15°C (59°F) – 20%
Under 17.5°C (63.5°F) – 24%
Under 20°C(68°F) – 15%
Under 22.5°C (72.5°F) – 17%

Learn to swim should be fun

October 31, 2011

Joining a swim school and entering a pool with a swim teacher could well be the first class room environment a young child may encounter.

Photo: Paul Van Jaarsveld

Helping the little swimmer to overcome the associated fears and uncertainty’s is the first step in the Learn to Swim journey.

Building a trust relationship will be a good swim teacher’s first goal.

Up to the age of 3, many children will only trust their parents or other family members and learning to trust a stranger in a swimming pool can be very stressful.

It does help if the little swimmer knows some other children who are learning to swim with the same teacher.  They will then compare notes amongst each other and can help make the whole journey more enjoyable.

There may be tears when a little swimmer enters the water for the first time.  A patient, calm swim teacher will help the child through this traumatic stage and this will be the start of the trust relationship.

Brenton’s Swim School offers lessons at the Training Edge Gym in a heated covered swimming pool. For more information, email

Marina Martinique hosts SA Open Water Champs

May 16, 2011

After hosting events in Marina Martinique since 2002, it was great for the Club to see the Marina receive recognition from Swim South Africa when the 2011 SA Open Water Swim Champs was held in J’Bay.

Olympic swimmers Natalie Du Toit, Chad Ho and Thoyden Prinsloo were joined by over a hundred swimmers from all over South Africa for the Champs.

Natalie won both the 10 K and the 5 K in the event which also doubled up as a World Champs qualifier.

She also took time out to visit the swimmers at training and signed autographs for everybody!