This time for Africa

It’s been a month since we got back from Oceania and I’ve had a few busy weekends in the USA: I completed a 1km swim in the 4°C waters of New York (and qualified for Antarctica), I swam about 20km in the 14°C waters of California (more on that later) and I took part in a 12km race in the 24°C of Florida – a 20°C difference in waters!

Next Wednesday we will be heading to South Africa to tackle Continent #2. The Freedom Swim, considered the “Everest” to every open water swimmer in South Africa, covers the stretch of water from Robben Island to Cape Town. Distance is not excessive but lower water temperatures as well as abundant marine life (including great white sharks) make it a very challenging swim. It is also a very special year, as Nelson Mandela would have turned 100 years old. I still remember seeing him from afar during his last public appearance at the final match of the 2010 World Cup.

There will be about 60 of us facing the Channel next Saturday – half of us in skins, half of them in wetsuits. Only 2,000 people have swum it before (including one Spaniard), about the same number as the English Channel. Olympian Troy Prinsloo holds the course record with an astonishing 1h23’, Theodore Yach has swam it 105 times, and Abriella Bredell became the youngest one to do it last January with only 11 years old. If conditions are good, I would love to complete it under 2h – but if we’ve learned one thing so far in this global journey, it’s that conditions are always unpredictable.

The first time I visited the Mother City in 2007 my dear friend Richard took me for a diving adventure in Gansbaai, just 100 miles off Cape Town. Watching a 12-foot great white furiously biting the cage I was in, just centimeters away from my face is not something you forget easily. But for the 2 hours I will be in the water on Saturday, I will try to think of anything but that. 

In any case, it will be great to tackle one of the most revered swims in the African continent, my second prison break after I escaped Alcatraz last September, and a good training towards colder water swims. It is no coincidence that the International Ice Swimming Association (IISA) and the Antarctica swim are managed by South Africans.

We will be broadcasting live on the Facebook page and YouTube channel – Stay tuned!