With just over a week to the Eastern Cape’s richest open water swim, the defending champions have yet to register their entry. With an overall prize pool of R39,000 and the winners in both the swimsuit and wetsuit categories taking home a whopping R4,500 each (both male and female), swimmers from around the country are being attracted to Nelson Mandela Bay on Human Rights Day to contest Africa’s toughest Indian Ocean Swim.
The Jendamark Bellbuoy Challenge is a daunting 5km ocean sea which sees participants going 2.5km straight out to sea to round the nautical bellbuoy directly off Pollok Beach. Whilst usually an easy swim out to the buoy, the currents around the area make for a very tough rounding and return to shore which in some instances can see swimmers return times double that of their outgoing time. Amy Mardon has won the ladies wetsuit category three times in a row with Hannah Haswell having won the ladies swimsuit category twice but this year the appearance of Nelson Mandela Bay Aquatics 10km and 5km champion, Amica de Jager, could change this. The Woodridge College student is swimming particularly well this season and recently won the SPAR Ladies River Mile, continuing to break PB’s throughout the season. A win at the Jendamark Bellbuoy Challenge would be a fitting close to a remarkable open water swimming season for her.
Men’s defending wetsuit champion and currently the number 1 seed in Eastern Province open water swimming, Ian Venter, will be keen to secure some great prize money but will be hard pushed by the likes of Kevin Richards, Page Black and Gary Albertyn. Rolf Kordes (76) and Maria Stott (61) are currently the oldest registrants for this year with Paige Black (14) and Heinrich Venter (14) the youngest.
The Jendamark Bellbuoy Challenge on Tuesday 21st March offers a fantastic spectacle from the shores of Pollok Beach where spectators can watch the entire race unfold in front of them. Race start is at 8.30am with the winners expected to take just under 1 hour. Race briefing for all participants takes place at 6pm on Monday 20th March at News Cafe, Boardwalk. See www.bellbuoychallenge.co.za for further information.
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