In addition to the Dassen Island crossings, a number of swims in and around the Langebaan lagoon have become very popular with open water swimmers. The Langebaan lagoon is known to have warmer waters and is relatively sheltered but is exposed to great variances in tides. It is known are perfect training ground for swimmers looking to do English Channel training.
The Dassen Island swim is similar, albeit slightly longer, than the Robben Island swim. A straight line from island to the coast in chilly water. Dassen Island is situated about 11km west of Yzerfontein, the first village on the West coast road and about 80km from Cape Town. On 7 May 1986 Barry Cutler became the first person to swim from Dassen Island to the West Coast in a time of 3:56. He braved extreme cold and strong currents to complete the swim for a local charity. The most recent crossing was by Alan Jamieson on the 30 March 2008 in a time of 02:33:00, which is the current record for the crossing.
There has always been swimming in the Langebaan lagoon by a strong local contingent which has the seen the formation of social swim groups and open water clubs. But Langebaan also captured the attention of the open water swimming community as a perfect training ground for the English Channel identified by Derrick Frazer of Big Bay Events and facilitated through a number of his swim training camps. Derrick soon realised the popularity of the location due to its warmer temperatures and relatively sheltered conditions and organised the first Langebaan Express Swim in 2019 which includes a 12km swim from Kraalbaai (Preekstoel) to Mykonos. This is one of the largest swim events where swimmers can also register their swim as a CLDSA official swim.
This is a popular swim along the Langebaan lagoon and is often tidal assisted for the first half of the swim and is also sometimes swum as a double (24km) particularly by the English Channel hopefuls.
The popular tidal-assisted route from Preekstoel to Pearlys falls between 6-7km and therefore is short of an official CLDSA swim. The variation of this route can be completed by adding a loop around the Langebaan lagoon toward the end of the swim. The swim can also be done as a double (16km).
The Dassen Island crossing is known to be exposed to currents, cold temperatures and a high possibility of sharks. Only a handful of experienced swimmers have completed it. The route has also been swum as a double from Yzerfontein to Dassen Island and back (22km).
1989 Barry Cutler
2013 Troy Prinsloo 01:23:54