The 2013 Nelson Mandela Bay Bell Buoy Challenge which takes place in Port Elizabeth on the Saturday the 30th March has attracted a quality field and is shaping up to be one of the most keenly contested races in the Challenge’s four year history despite being without a sponsor or financial support.
The Bell Buoy Challenge has gained the reputation as being “Africa’s toughest open water swim” and has grabbed the imagination of the growing South African open water swimming fraternity along with a number of international athletes having taken up the challenge. The event has, in the past three editions attracted athletes of the calibre of Australian Olympian and world championship medallist Melissa Gorman, Slovenian ace Rok Kerin, the legendary Bulgarian Petar Stoychov along with South African Olympian Troyden Prinsloo, all of whom have claimed line honours in the recent past.
“With the uncertainty of the 2013 Splash Festival, we’re had to downgrad the Bell Buoy swim from an international event to a low key national event without prize money to ensure that it takes place as we have just under 50 swimmers from around South Africa already entered for next weekend” Race organiser Mike Zoetmulder from race owners’ Zports.
This year will see a field of approximately 50 participants take to the water next Saturday for bragging rights. The absence of an international contingent will certainly not deter the participants as they brave the pristine waters situated off the picturesque Nelson Mandela Bay to take up this daunting challenge.
“For the majority this event has always been about the challenge of the ocean swim around the Bell Buoy and the overcoming of one’s fears as they swim some 2.5km off-shore.” Zoetmulder added
All eyes will be on will be on the promising local swimmer, Kendal Wright, in the swimsuit category and Wayne Jones in the wetsuit category. Both have been in fine fettle this summer, with Jones being undefeated in the popular Ocean Racing Series 2km swim which has evolved into one of the most popular open water swimming series in the country.
South Africa’s first athlete to complete the coveted “Triple Crown” of marathon swimming, Gauteng swimmer Roger Finch will also line up on the day alongside the likes of open water stalwarts PJ Duffy, Richard Jute and Richard Willimore, while former South African pool champion Gary Albertyn can never be underestimated.
Brenton “Why crawl when you can fly” Williams is set to complete yet another remarkable achievement when he will attempt to complete his second Bell Buoy Challenge swimming the entire event using the butterfly stroke.
In the ladies event Tammy Geyer has been impressive in the Ocean Racing Series this season and will certainly be the one to watch, while talented national tri-athlete representative Angela Ackermann can not be dismmedshould be up in the medals. Amongst the field are also 5 swimmers who have competed in all of the past Bell Buoy swims, these being Williams, Richden Jute, Ralph West, Stanford Slabbert and Mary-Anne Stott.
“Whilst the event is without sponsorship, we will not compromise on water safety and have insisted on a water safety ratio of at least 1 water safety personnel for every 3 swimmers out on the course. The traditional Penguin trophies have also been secured for the event and will be up for grabs by the various category winners.” Zoetmulder concluded.
Article source: http://mype.co.za/new/2013/03/africas-toughest-open-water-swim/