Some love hiking and some love cycling, but one other fitness group in Cape Town are those that love swimming. Capetonians are fortunate enough to have quick access to several of amazing beaches and bays that offer the perfect spots for long distance swimming in the ocean. But if it sounds daunting to face the open waters alone, don’t fret – join the Cape Long Distance Swimming Association and meet a whole community who will jump in the cold waters with you.
The Cape Long Distance Swimming Association (CLDSA) is an association established for the benefit of its members connected by their love of open water swimming and in particular sea swimming. They aim to highlight Cape Town as an open-water swimming destination, act as an information resource for long-distance, open-water swimming in the Western Cape, and they aim to promote and encourage long-distance, open-water swimming in general.
The CLDSA has six main areas they frequently swim in and several route variations in each area:
The Atlantic Seaboard
The Atlantic Seaboard is the site of some popular social open water swims from its many beautiful beaches including Clifton 4th and Camps Bay. It is notably one of the coldest stretches for long distance swims making it less popular among swimmers but it remains one of the most beautiful coastlines to explore. The Atlantic seaboard routes stretch all the way from Kommetjie to the Oceana Yacht Club at the Waterfront. Some route variations include short 8 km swims between Clifton and Oceana, or between Llandudno and Camps Bay, or a lenghty 20 km swim between Camps Bay and Robben Island.
Big Bay, Blouberg is where most Robben Island swims finish, but it’s also the spot other notable swims along the coastline start or finish. These include the popular Lighthouse swim of 10.5 km from Milnerton Lighthouse to Big Bay, Blouberg and the Blouberg to Melkbosstrand swim of 10 km. These swims can traditionally be very cold. The longest variation is a 24 km swim that starts in Blouberg and loops around Robben Island before returning to Blouberg.
Cape Point is the southern-most point of the Cape Peninsula and in many Capetonians’ view the official meeting place for the cold Atlantic and warm Indian oceans. The geographic divide between these two oceans is actually at Cape Agulhas. However, the boundary between the warm waters of the Indian Ocean and the cold Atlantic migrates seasonally between Cape Agulhas and Cape Point. Treacherous seas, rocky cliffs with few landing opportunities, and sharks make this a formidable swim. There are only two route variations around the peninsula: a shorter 8 km swim between Diaz Beach and Buffels Bay, and the slightly longer 10.2 km swim, starting from Maclear Beach and rounding the Cape of Good Hope, Cape Maclear and Cape Point and finishing in Buffels Bay.
False Bay is a natural bay that stretches along the peninsula’s eastern coastline from the Cape of Good Hope Nature Reserve at Cape Point to Cape Hangklip. It is the largest true bay in South Africa and one of the great bays in the world. The water body covers approximately 1000 km², and the coastline, which makes up the Southern portion of the breathtaking Cape Peninsula, and includes the area from Muizenberg to Cape Point, is about 33 km in extent. The CLDSA has a variety of official swim routes in this location culminating in the Everest of Cape swims, the solo False Bay crossing. The Everest of Cape swims is the solo crossing of False Bay itself from Rooi Els to Miller’s Point or Miller’s Point to Rooi Els at a distance of about 33 km, but there are also two shorter 10 km swims between Miller’s Point and Fishhoek or Simonstown and Muizenberg.
Robben Island is the iconic and most popular swim to do in Cape Town because of the historical and political significance of Robben Island which is a World Heritage Site. It offers a number of route variations: a Robben Island crossing from Robben Island to Blouberg Beach or Three Anchor Bay, or around the Island or any combination thereof. The longest route is a 30 km ‘Around Robben Island Triple’ swim and the shortest is a 7.4 km swim between Robben Island and Blouberg.
Swim along the West Coast of the Western Cape starting in Melkbosstrand and carrying on until Velddrift. In addition to the Dassen Island crossings, a number of swims in and around the Langebaan lagoon have become very popular with open water swimmers. The Langebaan lagoon is known to have warmer waters and is relatively sheltered but is exposed to great variances in tides. It is known as a perfect training ground for swimmers looking to do English Channel training. Challenge yourself with the 24 km route from Preekstoel to Mykonos and back to Preekstoel, or opt for the shorter 8 km swim between Langebaan and Preekstoel.
Become a member
CLDSA membership, which runs from 1 July until 30 June each year, is required to book an official swim through the CLDSA but membership also offers official recognition of your swim in CLDSA public register and personalised swim certificate, attendance at annual CLDSA awards ceremony, 15% discount of selected CLDSA swim events, and much more.
Membership costs R300 for the year; applications can be done and paid for online.
Join now and participate in the first CLDSA swim in July at Clifton 4th. All level of swimmers are welcome at this event that will take place on 3 July.
For more information about the association and their swims, visit the CLDSA website.