Aquatic club swims for freedom

30 April 2008 | Story by Chris McEvoy

Freedom ahead: Three members of the Armchair Pirates are (from left) Cole Acutt, Stephen O' Rahilly and Hugh Jacobs closing in on Blouberg

Fifteen members of UCT's Aquatics club participated in the 2008 Cadiz Vista Nova Freedom Swim, in which about 200 swimmers braved the icy waters to swim from Robben Island to Bloubergstrand on 27 April.

The event is held in recognition of Freedom day, which celebrates the first South African democratic elections. Swimmers are taken to Robben Island, then "escape" to the Atlantic coast by swimming the 7.5 km.

The real challenge though is not the distance, but the temperature. The swim is known as the world's most extreme cold water event, with sea temperatures as cold as 12 degrees centigrade. Because of this, hypothermia is the swimmer's greatest challenge.

Competing with three solo swimmers and three relay teams of four swimmers each, UCT Aquatics did extremely well, with team Sweet Deal winning the relay and the Armchair Pirates placing third. All but one swimmer, who succumbed to hypothermia a mere 100 metres from the finish, were able to complete the grueling swim.

Destination reached: Placing third, the Armchair Pirates are (from left) Hugh Jacobs, Stephen O'Rahilly, Cole Acutt and Rowan Dunne

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