The Deep Blue Invitational Swim turned out to be a draw, a tie between South Africa’s toughest extreme swimmers and the cold, lumpy ocean.

14 of South Africa’s hardest core open water swimmers, but only 7 managed to complete the swim in the turgid Atlantic Ocean last Saturday.

The wind-whipped swim was held at Shelley Point, on the west coast of South Africa, near the village of St Helena Bay, 150 km north of Cape Town.

Faced with conditions that included an angry wind chop and plunging water temperatures that started at 13.5°C and dropped to 10.5°C. “The swim was going to be difficult and we needed to ensure the swimmers were safe. The water was cold and the chop was going to be a significant factor so we decided to shorten the course by 2 kilometers”, said race director Frazer.

The Deep Blue of the Atlantic threw a lot at the swimmers. Strong head wind and significant surface chop made it very difficult for the swimmers to get any rhythm going, especially for Brenton Williams who swam butterfly.

After rounding the first buoy, the swimmers caught a break with big chop coming from behind. Together with a good tail wind, the elements helped push the swimmers along. But Mother Nature was not about to let the swimmers off without a cold patch of water during the last 2 km. The 10.5°C water, along with the chop and wind, was a bit much for 7 of the 14 entrants in the final scorecard.

According to event doctor Dr Sean Gottschalk, the average body temperature drop of the swimmers was 4°C with the lowest body temperature reading 30.2°C (86.3°F).

Lisa Cowling led the way despite the rough conditions, winning Deep Blue in 2 hours 24 minutes well ahead of Buff Van Westenbrugge, the first man back onto land. Remarkably, the butterflying Williams finished fifth.

I kept an eye on Brenton as much as I could through the first 5K.  I saw him finish. He kept his stroke true the entire time. The same pace, the same stroke. He didn’t look flustered at all at the end. I was blown away,” said Shaun Lilford one of the organisers from Ripple Effect.

Mark de Klerk and Martin Weggaar were the remaining two finishers in the 8 km race. Richard Willmore won the 3 km swim with Philip Dempster finishing second.

Deep Blue 8K Results:
1. Lisa Cowling, 2:24:00
2. Buff van Westenbrugge, 2:49:55
3. Ryan Stramrood, 2:50:28
4. Tim Stiff, 2:13:14
5. Brenton Williams (butterfly), 3:40:24
6. Mark de Klerk, 3:45:09
7. Martin Weggaar, 3:50:46

Deep Blue 3K Invitational
1. Richard Willmore, 50:47
2. Philip Dempster, 52:44
3. Tommy Kruger, 54:07
4. Kathyrn Nurse, 54:23
5. Monika Hayes, 1:01:41
6. Larry Muller, 1:02:11
7. Jason Stramrood, 1:10:44
8. Kendal Wright, 1:16:33
9. Sandi Sher, 1:17:19
10. Hazel Mc Queen, 1:17:23
11. Mauro Sanderhoff, 1:35:35
12. Wyne Hakimi, 1:35:40
Photos by Clive Wright.

Copyright © 2012 by Open Water Source