Relay team smash record for swim across False Bay

Hout Bay swimmer Brad Gale at the finish line in Rooi Els.

A four-man relay team set a record, on Friday March 26, for the fastest relay swim across the width of False Bay from Miller’s Point to Rooi Els .

The team, led by Constantia swimmer Barend Nortje, who held the solo False Bay record until last week, along with Constantia swimmer Anthony Pearse, Hout Bay swimmer Brad Gale and Mark Chamberlin who hails from Bishop’s Court, smashed the world record for the fastest swim across the 34km width of False Bay in 7 hours and 29 minutes.

Mr Nortje said he was “incredibly proud of what the team had achieved.”

“We functioned as a well-prepared unit and everyone did what was required of them, beyond expectation. We formed a unique bond, attained personal goals, raised money for the Jag Foundation and showed that commitment, resilience, a positive attitude, solid training and preparation pays off,” he said.

According to the False Bay Swimming Association, the False Bay crossing is similar in distance and difficulty to the English Channel, the global yardstick event for marathon swimmers.

Huge swells, strong winds, fast changing conditions and abundant sea life, are the major characteristics of the False Bay swim and it is regarded as the 13th most difficult open water sea swim in the world.

Constantia swimmer Anthony Pearse in action as Barend Nortje looks on in the boat.

The relay swim started at Miller’s Point at 9.40am in a strong 23 knot northerly wind and a big swell and the sea temperature throughout the swim varied from 13 to 14 degrees for the first couple of hours and warmed up to 18 to 19 degrees for the last period.

Relay rules state that team members must swim an hour each and follow each other in a predetermined sequence. Mr Nortje had assembled his teammates according to their pace and planned to swim at 4.5km an hour, with a final objective of completing the distance in 8 hours. The time, a relay record for the False Bay swim, will be submitted to Guinness World Records for ratification.

Mr Pearce said he felt honoured to be able to share this journey with Mr Nortje, Mr Gale and Mr Chamberlin.

Swimmers Anthony Pearse, Brad Gale, Mark Chamberli and Barend Nortje at the finish line in Rooi Els.

He said his biggest fear was getting seasick on the boats while waiting for their fellow swimmers to do their one-hour laps, or cramps in the deep ocean.

Mr Chamberlin said: “This was one of the greatest challenges of my life. My fear of sharks was a huge thing to overcome. I loved being part of such a strong team of experienced long-distance sea swimmers and to hold my own with them.”

Mr Gale said: “Open water has always been my passion and what an awesome experience this was from training to stopping the stopwatch as I stood on the rocks. What a privilege it was to swim this with legends.”