Veteran long-distance swimmer Theodore Yach. File picture: Jason Boud

Cape Town - Legendary South African open water swimmer Theodore Yach, who holds the record of 108 Robben Island swims, has died. He was 60.

Cape Long Distance Swimming Association (CLDSA) said Yach died on Wednesday. He was undergoing routine tests for an asthma complaint when he collapsed and died in hospital.

According to CLDSA, Yach was a veteran of 108 Robben Island swims, an English Channel swim, as well as many other international distance swims. The association said he would be remembered as a humble gentleman who loved motivating youth to achieve their dreams. He was a friend to all and took interest in all swimmers who shared his passion for sea swimming.

CLDSA chairperson Andrew Chin said Yach’s death shocked the swimming community as he was well known for his swimming achievements around the world.

“Theodore Yach was a legend in South African open water swimming circles and he inspired many people to take on the challenge of a swim to Robben Island, which was his favourite swim,” said Chin.

“He inspired many people, taught many people how to swim, including the Archbishop of Cape Town who was one his students. It’s a shock to the swimming community. He was known around the world for his swimming records.”

Condolences poured in on social media on Thursday.

On Facebook, Ellery Mcgowan commented: “What an honour it was to meet Theo on our Robben Island Camp in February... such an inspiration. I bet he got more out of his 60 years than most people would have in 600. Very sad!”

Anton Musgrave said: “Theodore was a true legend in his own time, a human, a leader of people and ideas. I was privileged to know him and work with him. Thinking of his special family. RIP our friend. The world will miss you.”

Gillian Vanbiljon commented: “Theodore was my boss for a good few years at Protea Hotels. Such a humble man with huge values. I have been privileged to follow his swims and charitable work via social media with respect and admiration. My sincere condolences to his family. RIP Theo xx.”

Yach leaves his wife Michelle and two sons, Daniel and David.

African News Agency (ANA)