Extreme swimmer and inspirational speaker Ryan Stramrood broke the record for the fastest 33 km swim across False Bay with 38 minutes on Thursday 18 March.
The Rondebosch resident is only the sixth solo swimmer to achieve the crossing, which he undertook from Miller’s Point near Simonstown to Rooi-Els near Pringle Bay. And he did so in 8:39.
The previous record of 9:17 from March 2007 is held by Barend Nortje.
For Stramrood, this challenge has been more than two years in the making, with lockdown restrictions on training and lack of access to the ocean hampering his efforts.
“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 °C. I am so happy that it is done, with an unexpected record as well.”
Stramrood had two support boats flanking him during the swim, with official observers onboard to ensure that the rules for an official swim were adhered to.
He is not allowed to touch the boat or receive any assistance beyond a water bottle being thrown in for him to take in liquids and nutrition.
“Huge thanks goes to Derrick Fraser, Leigh de Necker and team from Big Bay Events. Without their support boats and meticulous observation, these extreme open water swims would be exponentially more difficult,” says Stramrood.
He says swimming tests his mind, adding that Thursday’s record-breaking swim was about 80% mental and 20% physical.
“In many ways getting in physical shape is the easy part, its dedication to the goal. Obviously, I have to train really hard, but maintaining a strong mindset through any obstacle is the most important element.”
Stramrood explains he was just getting into his rhythm at around 2,5 km when he was hit by an entanglement of blue bottles.
“I was stung multiple times from head to toe. Its brutal and its 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.”
People’s Post reported on Stramrood earlier this year (“Make your cross for extreme swimmer”, 25 January) when he was nominated for the World Open Water Swimming Association (Wowsa) Man of the Year award after being recognised for achieving the record number of crossings from Robben Island to the mainland last year.
In June, Stramrood completed his 109th Robben Island crossing, which broke the record held by Theodore Yach.
He has completed the Robben Island swim a further six times since then and is still the record holder at 115 crossings.