The False Bay Swimming Association aims to bring the marathon swimming world to Cape Town. Alex Weiss
A group of Cape Town open water swimmers have embarked on a mission to position the swim across False Bay as one of the most challenging and desirable swims in the world of marathon swimming.

The False Bay Swim is a 34km open water swim, which compares with the English Channel and other Oceans Seven swims around the world in terms of distance and conditions.

In line with marathon swimming internationally, the False Bay swim has its own rules and regulations with a strong focus on safety.

The newly launched False Bay Swimming Association will be responsible for the co-ordination, officiating and promotion of the swim.

The association aims to bring the marathon swimming world to Cape Town. “We believe the swim has all the required ingredients to be an epic international challenge” said board member Ram Barkai.

The newly established board consists of a team of experienced long- distance and cold water swimmers, including Barkai, Sam Whelpton, Carina Bruwer, Kieron Palframan, Eddie Cassar, and Derrick Frazer.

The non-profit association will focus only on swims across the bay. This requires an effort to promote the swim locally and internationally, as well as to regulate and record swims.

To date only five swimmers have successfully swum solo across False Bay - three South Africans and two international swimmers. The first successful swim was completed by Belgium swimmer Annemie Landmeters in 1989, while the most recent crossing was in 2012 by Irish swimmer Ned Denison.

The average swim time is about 11 hours and the longest is 14 hours.

The fastest male crossing was by South African Barend Nortje in a time of 9:17h and the fastest female crossing was by Carina Bruwer, also from South Africa, in 10:58h.

There have been more than two dozen other crossing attempts by different swimmers over the years which have been unsuccessful due to varying reasons, most relating to the extreme challenges posed by the crossing.

The association allows for various categories. There is the elite skins category where swimmers wear one swimming cap, goggles and a standard swimming costume, and the wetsuit category where swimmers may wear an Ironman neoprene wetsuit.

It also introduces a solo category where a single person swims non-stop, and relay category where a team of a maximum of six swimmers alternate every hour.

The solo skins is regarded as the elite category as the swimmer has no protection against the cold water and has to complete the swim unassisted from one side of the bay to the other.

The association said it was excited about the potential of the initiative.

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