Ryan Stramrood swims the 33km False Bay crossing with a support boat alongside him. He completed the swim in a record 8h39mins. Picture: Leigh de Necker
Ryan Stramrood swims the 33km False Bay crossing with a support boat alongside him. He completed the swim in a record 8h39mins. Picture: Leigh de Necker

Swimmer breaks 2007 record, swims 33km across False Bay

By Robin-Lee Francke Time of article published Mar 19, 2021

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CAPE TOWN - A Cape Town swimmer known for his extreme swimming has broken a record by completing the 33km across False Bay in record time.

Ryan Stramrood, 46, an international motivational speaker, mindset trainer and avid open-water swimmer, has been busy improving himself since last year.

In June last year, Stramrood successfully completed his 109th crossing from Robben Island to Blouberg Beach, beating a record set by the late Theodore Yach in 2016 when he completed 108 crossings.

Yach died in 2018 after being admitted to a hospital with asthmatic complaints.

In lockdown and locked away from the ocean, Stramrood had no means of training prior to June.

However, once lockdown restrictions were eased, and dressed in nothing but a Speedo, swimming goggles and a cap, Stamrood didn’t think twice about entering the icy-cold 14-degree waters of the Atlantic Ocean.

He swam the same Robben Island to Blouberg crossing a further six times, making him a record holder of 115 crossings.

Now, in 2021, the single father decided to take on a new challenge and managed to break another record on Thursday, March 18.

Stramrood swam 33km across False Bay in a fastest time of 8h39mins, subject to ratification by the Cape Long Distance Swimming Association (CLDSA). The previous record of 9h17mins from March 2007 is held by Barend Nortje.

The sixth person to achieve this crossing, he started from Miller’s Point near Simon’s Town and swam to Rooi-Els near Pringle Bay.

The dream of achieving this swim had been in the making for the past two years; however, the Covid-19 pandemic, lockdown regulations and closure of the beaches made it difficult for him to train.

The swim, to others, may look easy, but for Stramrood it was a tough one.

“It was a very tough but great swim for me. I felt strong so I pushed hard, despite it being really rough and the waves side-on. The best part was the relatively warm water at 18.5 to 19 degrees. I am so happy that it is done, with an unexpected record as well,” he said.

During his swim, two support boats were alongside him along with official observers on board to ensure all rules were adhered to.

He was not allowed to touch the boat or receive any sort of assistance beyond a water bottle being thrown in the water for him to take in liquids and nutrition.

“Swimming tests my mind. The swim was about 80% mental and 20% physical; in many ways getting in physical shape is the easy part, it’s dedication to the goal.

“Obviously, I have to train really hard, but maintaining a strong mindset through any obstacle is the most important element. I was just getting into my rhythm at around 2.5km and I hit an entanglement of bluebottles and was stung multiple times from head to toe. It's brutal and it's finding that mental strength and grit that allows one to handle the inevitable setbacks and to keep going. This mindset can help you achieve just about anything,” he said.

These are not the only uncharted waters Stramrood has entered. He has completed the English Channel, swum in sub-zero temperatures in Antarctica, swum the double North Channel relay and attempted a solo swim from Russia to the USA. He has also swum across the Straits of Gibraltar from Europe to Africa twice, and is a two-time Guinness World Record holder.

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