After two below par performances at the NMBA open water swimming championships earlier in the month, 18-year old depending Jendamark Bellbuoy swimsuit Champion, Daniel Jones, is peaking at the right time. Having defended both his Double Mile and SPAR River Mile titles over the weekend, Jones couldn’t have ask to be in a better position ahead of this Saturday’s epic swim which carries one of the highest open water prize purses in the Province.
“That was very, very tough with the last 50m just a flat-out shoulder to shoulder sprint,” said Jones after his nail biting title defence at Sunday’s 92nd SPAR River Mile where he managed to beat pre-race favourite Ian Venter in the run up through the finish tower.
Being a top surf lifesaver with the Summerstrand Surf Lifesaving Club, Jones’ advantage is his skill in running out of the water at the end of open water swimming events and this will be tested again this Saturday when the Jendamark Bellbuoy Challenge takes place at Pollok Beach. Billed as the toughest 5km Indian Ocean event on the planet, the 5km ocean sea is a daunting swim which sees swimmers going 2.5km straight out to sea to round the nautical bellbuoy directly off Pollok Beach.
With final race entries for the event closing today, around 100 of South Africa’s bravest open water swimmers will be lining up in two categories, the traditional English channel rules swimsuit category and the wetsuit category for equal prize money across both categories for the first time in the history of the event. Title sponsors of the event, Jendamark Automation, recently agreed a 5-year sponsorship of the event which includes a cash prize pool of R37,000 split equally across the two disciplines.
For the top swimmers it’s always a gamble which category to go with and whilst water temperatures and ocean conditions usually dictate the final decision, the increase of the prize money certainly adds another huge factor to the decision. Defending wetsuit champion Ian Venter’s disappointment at having been beaten by Jones in both the double and single mile events last weekend will definitely be forefront of his decision which category to enter on Saturday. Wayne Jones, older brother to Daniel will also fancy his chances in the wetsuit category having finished just behind Daniel in the double Mile on Saturday.
Defending ladies swimsuit champion Hannah Haswell will be keen to secure the R4,000 first prize after her strong double mile victory on Saturday but will be very weary of in-form Woodridge College scholar Amica de Jager who placed 2nd in the SPAR Ladies Mile behind Jessica Canter on Sunday. The big question is whether Haswell goes for the wetsuit category to avoid a show down with de Jager who is sure to enter into the swimsuit category.
The Jendamark Bellbuoy Challenge 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.
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