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Where to Swim/Train

Please be advised that these Social Swims do not have a safety infrastructure in place. The safety is provided by the swimmers themselves and this take place in the form of the “buddy” system. Should you arrive at any of these swims, please make it clear that it’s your first time and some on within the group will run through the swim route/rules of the day. Plus one of the swimmers will be your “buddy” for the swim. Do not attempt to swim alone as the sea can be so unpredictable.

And so if you are traveling to Cape Town to attempt an Atlantic Ocean (Robben Island or Cape Point) swim, it would be advisable to do some training in the ocean. Camps Bay Beach or 4th Beach Clifton, are perfect for this as both are reasonably well protected bays and the water is normally calm and cold. It is however never advisable to swim on your own so that your first port of call should be one of the social swims described below.

THE CHILLY ATLANTIC

Sunday Swims

Camps Bay Beach

There is a social swim at Camps Bay every Sunday morning at 09:00 all year round. This is a purely social swim and newcomers are welcome and will be looked after by the more experienced swimmers as they acclimatise to the cold. Sea temperatures are usually around 13 degrees, but can go as low as 9 degrees and as high as 19 degrees. The course of 1.5km is close to shore so that swimmers can exit at any point. The picture below shows a particularly beautiful morning at Camps Bay.

We meet on the lawns in front of Cafe Caprice and afterwards we always stay on at Caprice for hot chocolates and breakfast. Thus it is also an ideal opportunity to meet many of the best and most experienced local swimmers and to find out what is happening locally. For further information contact Andrew Chin on 083 708 1390.

Clifton 4th Beach

On most Sundays the swim is at Camps Bay, but on the first Sunday of the month there is an organised swim at Clifton 4th Beach, where for a small fee you get lifeguards and your time over the course. Both the Camps Bay and Clifton swims are around 1.5km and usually very cold.

Week Day Swims (during the summer months)

Clifton 4th Beach

Keen swimmers gather at Clifton 4th Beach for a dip from 17:00 onwards. They generally swim between the rocks either side of 4th beach a couple of times, and but when conditions are flat they might venture to 1st beach and back (1.5km)

Big Bay Beach, Blouberg

If you live in the Northern Suburbs, and the Tableview area, each Tuesday and Thursday morning at 06:00 a social swim takes place from outside Big Bay Life Saving Club. The distance is temperature related. You can contact Derrick on 082 770 5798.

FACEBOOK SUNDAY HOT CHOCOLATE GROUPS:

Our usual cold swim with hot chocolate . Every Sunday in camps bay 9am by Caprice. Founded by Andrew Chin and Ram Barkai since 1999. The purpose of the group is place pre swim info on conditions and post swim stories.

Other groups have popped up:

Camps Bay                         Andrew Chin and Ram Barkai
Knysna                                Delle Henry
Weskus (Langebaan)        Walter Hart
Jeffreys Bay                       Brenton Williams

TRAINING

SERIOUS POOL TIME

Sea Point Pavilion

For time in the pool there is no better place than the Sea Point Pavilion. This is a large 50m open air sea water public pool on the beach front in Sea Point. In summer (October to March) the pool is open from 07:00 until 19:00, although it is best to get there early to avoid the crowds.

Some swimmers prefer this venue on a Sunday morning. Indeed, you will find other swimmers there every morning, as well as at lunchtimes and after work. Many of the Cape Long Distance Swimming legends should be training - veterans like Peter Bales, Hugh Tucker, Theo Yach and Otto Thaning still train here regularly. Although pool training is vital, it would be advisable to do some training in the ocean as well. Camps Bay Beach or 4th Beach, Clifton are perfect for this as both are reasonably well protected bays and the water is normally calm and cold. It is however never advisable to swim on your own so that your first port of call should be one of the social swims described here.

HOW DO I PREPARE FOR A ROBBEN ISLAND SWIM?

The biggest challenge presented by Robben Island, Cape Point and often False Bay swims is not necessarily the distance, but the cold water temperature. There are ways to prepare your body and mind for a cold swim: these include training in cold water for weeks or even months before an attempt, or traveling to Cape Town at least a week before your attempt to acclimatise in the Atlantic ocean. Picking up some weight could be beneficial as extra body fat will serve as a natural insulation and may prevent hypothermia.

WHAT AM I ALLOWED TO WEAR?

A swim is only official when done according to the English Channel Swimming rules, i.e., a swimmer is permitted to wear only one costume, one cap, and one pair of swimming goggles. You are allowed to use grease, but this is seldom done other than to prevent chaffing.

WHEN IS THE BEST TIME OF YEAR TO ATTEMPT A SWIM IN CAPE TOWN, AND HOW WILL THE WEATHER AFFECT MY SWIM?

The open water swimming season in Cape Town generally stretches from October to April/May, although crossings in winter have been completed successfully. Water temperatures on the Atlantic side supposedly increase around February / March / April, due to the gradual decrease of the prevailing summer-wind, the South-Easter. It does however often happen that temperatures are still very low during these months, and higher in January; it is unfortunately impossible to predict. The hot air temperature during summer months does make a big difference.

The conclusion is that, due to Cape Town's often unpredictable weather, especially with regards to wind, it is advisable to allow yourself a reasonable window period in order to at least get a chance to make an attempt. A period of 7-10 days should be sufficient for Robben Island, Cape Point and Cape Agulhas attempts, while crossing False Bay is more complicated. Please contact us to discuss this.