Robben Island records

2013-02-06 15:12

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Robben Island is once again at the central point of a really cool stunt - Matt Silver-Vallance will be strapping himself to 200 helium-filled party balloons on Robben Island  and floating across the ocean to the mainland in the hope of raising R10 million for the Nelson Mandela Children’s Hospital.

The prevalence of sharks in the water below, should Matt take an unexpected swim, is a key concern surrounding the daring stunt.

Part of Matt’s support crew includes a team of open water swimmers who will start swimming from Robben Island two hours ahead of Matt so that they will be there to capture and escort Matt when he (hopefully) lands as planned 200m from the coastline.

These seasoned swimmers are not at all concerned about the possibility of meeting a shark along the way. Swimmer, Martin Goodman, says: “A false impression is created about sharks being a problem – in reality they are not. I have never seen a shark in the water while I have been swimming, nor while I have been on the boat observing for other swimmers.”

Alison Kock, Research Manager at Shark Spotters, agrees that the likelihood of encountering a shark between Robben Island and the mainland is not nearly as high as it would be in other areas like False Bay or Fish Hoek.

As the Robben Island Balloon Run draws closer here’s a roundup of those who have braved the waters to complete what is South Africa’s most iconic swim - The Cadiz Freedom Swim.

It remains an ideal for many extreme swimmers worldwide because of the physical challenge, as well as the historical significance of the Island.

The first Robben Island swim was recorded in 1909 when Henry Charteris Hooper swam from Robben Island to the old Cape Town harbour. It took Hooper just under 7 hours to complete the swim of approximately 11km. The first woman to swim from Robben Island to Cape Town was 15 year-old Peggy Duncan in 1926.

Since then hundreds of individuals have done the crossing from various points on the Cape Town coast to Robben Island. Variations of the swim include from Blouberg Beach or Three Anchor Bay, or round the Island or any combination thereof.

Most recently Tyrone Venter became the first extreme long-distance swimmer to do a triple crossing between Robben Island and Big Bay. The six hour swim covering 25kms took place in October 2012 and he also registered a two-hour and 37-minutes lap around the island, the fastest to date.

The main swims between Robben Island and the mainland are between 7km and 11km) swimming Robben Island has become a challenge even to accomplished swimmers, mostly due to the cold water temperature.

Theo Yach leads with 68 crossing swims in total. 

The most popular time to attempt the iconic swim is during the Cadiz Freedom Swim which takes place annually close to Freedom Day on 27 April, significant of South Africa’s first democratic elections back in 1994 when Nelson Mandela was elected President of South Africa.

Freedom Swim records:

Fastest Double Crossing from Robben Island to Bloubergstrand (15K):
Phillip Chappel (Australia), 6 December 2009, 3:55:56

Fastest Triple Crossing from Robben Island to Bloubergstrand (22.5K):
Steven Klugman (South Africa), 28 February 2003, 6:12

Fastest Crossing from Robben Island to Three Anchor Bay (10.2K):
Christof Wandratsch (Germany), 5 February 2005, 2:11:49

Fastest Female Crossing from Robben Island to Three Anchor Bay (10.2K):
Liz Webb (South Africa), 9 December 2009, 2:41:48

Fastest Double Crossing from Three Anchor Bay to Robben Island (20.4K):
Steven Klugman(South Africa): 3 March 2002, 5:52

Fastest Female Double Crossing from Three Anchor Bay to Robben Island (20.4K):
Annemie Landmeters (Belgium), 16 December 1987, 6:28

Fastest Swim from Three Anchor Bay to Robben Island to Bloubergstrand
Peter Bales(South Africa): 15 April 1981, 5:43

Youngest Swimmer from Three Anchor Bay to Robben Island to Bloubergstrand:
10-year-oldAditya Raut (India), 21 June 2004, 6:42

Fastest Circumnavigation around Robben Island (9.9K):
Fastest swim & fastest female:
Carina Bruwer (South Africa), 27 April 2005, 3:07

Fastest Male Circumnavigation around Robben Island (9.9K):
Lewis Pugh (Great Britain), 10 July 2004, 3.42

Youngest Male Three Anchor Bay to Robben Island
Aditya Raut (India) aged 10 on 21 Jan 2004,3hr 38min

Oldest Male Robben Island to Blouberg:
Kevin Fialkov (SA) aged 70 on 27 Apr 2008, 3hr 55min

Youngest female Robben Island to Blouberg:
Janine Horsley (SA) aged 12 on 16 Jan 2001, 2hr 21min

Oldest Female Robben Island to Blouberg:
Barbara Pearce (SA) aged 64 on 02 Jun 2002,4hr 08min

If you plan on attempting a swim – here’s what you need to do:

-    You need to notify the authorities on Robben Island as swimmers are not allowed on Robben Island unless they have given the go-ahead.
-    You have to be a CLDSA registered swimmer in order to apply to do a swim
-    Once you are registered you will be allocated a Swimmer Id which you will then use to apply for a swim.
-    Becoming a member is subject to a registered fee, which also includes a certificate and medal on completion.
-    You need to supply Cape Swim. Com with all your details, including ID your payment and your Indemnity. Note the organisaiton is not obliged to forward your name to Robben Island unless you submit the necessary documents, at least a week before hand.


Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

SHARE: publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside Travel


#FindYourEscape with Traveller24

Your insider guide to exploring South Africa and the world...
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.