Speedo Robben Island Escape December 2020:
The December 2020 version of the Robben Island Escape started with the usual nervous boat boarding for the shuttle to Robben Island at 6:00 am. Below perfectly clear skies, the sun that promised a pleasantly warm day was only now popping the top of its lazy head over the horizon.
All of this belied the unseen preparations behind the scenes that had seen the boat skippers crawling out of bed at 3:30 am to get the safety team in place.
Half an hour later the 16 swimmers had swum to shore and were touching the rocks at Robben Island, which signified the symbolic starting of their stopwatches before setting off on the 7.2 km swim to Big Bay. Water temps held constant between 13 to 14 degrees, but a wall of mist was rolling in. In the old days before GPS, the mist was a major danger, but nowadays its more of an inconvenience.
Derrick Frazer head honcho of event organising company Big Bay Events has done many hundreds of these crossings, and he was constantantly shuttling between all of the chaperone boats ensuring that skippers and swimmers were on course. How he manages to find 7 boats spread over 7.2km in almost zero visibility is quite beyond me, but there was no drama or panic, just another normal day at the office. I know its not luck because I have seen him do it often.
Half an hour later the mist was gone leaving a glaring haze behind that made photography challenging but very rewarding.
Highlights of this swim were a couple of Ocean Sunfish sightings and the usual dolphins popping in for a quick hello.
If you want to get into open water swimming, Speedo the event sponsors are running clinics in conjunction with top SA swimmer Michelle Weber. Read about them here, or jump ahead and book for the January course here.