Robben Island Crossing Journey

"I have unfinished business with Robben Island.

I registered for the April 2017 Freedom Swim. My qualifying swim was Round The Rocks in Jan 2017 and I qualified for the skins category, just to keep my options open. The water behind the rocks was 11.3 degrees and it took me so long to stop shaking after the qualifier that I decided I’d better wear a wetsuit for the crossing.

Before Freedom Swim there were two days of howling South Easter. The wind finally dropped on race-day and the call was made to go ahead with the event. The water inside RI harbor was 11 which now felt relatively toasty in my Coral wetsuit and I swam 5.5km before the Race Marshall cancelled the event and instructed all boatmen to withdraw their swimmers. Apparently, water inside the rocks was 9 degrees and even some of the top swimmers weren’t coping. I hit the beach spitting mad, but I have to admit now that I probably wouldn’t have made it and am grateful that common sense prevailed. My boatman was having engine trouble and I trod water while he hammered his sparkplugs. Also my line was too far north and I would have been fighting the current to get back down to Big Bay.

Everyone I’ve spoken to since says organize your own swim with Big Bay Events and pick a day with decent conditions. But it’s hard to motivate yourself to train alone and get to the level of swimming fitness required for a solo RI crossing. Which is why I jumped when Embark advertised a coached small-group crossing in the ATC newsletter.

Training so far has been fun. It’s nice to have a sense of purpose, a target date and a group of like-minded crazies to banter with on whatsapp. Even if I don’t yet recognize all of you in real life! The changeable weather and the lockdown have been a challenge, but with a couple of sea swims, a couple of Silvermine swims, a couple of gym swims and LOTS of canal swims I’ve kept up to date until this week when I got smacked by sinus. And it’s nice to feel fitter than most of my swimsquad mates who haven’t swum at all in lockdown! 😊

Looking forward to getting back on programme next week! " - Andrew Denny 




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