Carina Bruwer makes history with Walker Bay crossing

Carina Walker Bay 2 By Dave De Beer
Image (c) Dave De Beer

South African marathon swimmer Carina Bruwer has become the first person to swim across Walker Bay in the south-western Western Cape province of South Africa.

Also an internationally renowned flute player, Bruwer swam the 21km crossing in aid of the Tribuo fund, a non-profit organisation that was created to support the performing arts sector following the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Bruwer completed the crossing from Hermanus Old Harbour to Stanford Cove in De Kelders in a time of 6 hours 36 minutes. She did so according to English Channel swimming rules, wearing only a swimming costume, cap and goggles, and starting and finishing on dry land, without any contact with the support boat throughout the swim.

Carina Walker Bay By Sarah Taylor

Bruwer was joined by some spectacular wildlife during the swim (Image (c) Sarah Taylor)

Conditions on the day were favourable with minimal wind, though Bruwer swam against a strong head current for most of the distance. The water temperature varied between 17.5 and 19 degrees.

“Every swim is special but I have to say, this is one I will never forget," said Bruwer. " It is always wonderful to pioneer a new swim, and this one is certainly epic in terms of its geography and the incredible sea life that one encounters!

"This powerful experience is something that I want to mirror to the artist community, to offer hope and empathy. When artists are unable to perform their craft, it is not only their livelihood that is affected – it is also their sense of purpose and their vehicle of expression.

"My wish is that we can raise enough money to make a meaningful difference for as many as possible of the thousands of artists who are truly broken – financially and mentally.”

The crossing was coordinated by Walker Bay Adventures, and owner Herman De Vries joined Carina in the water for some sections of the swim.

"It was wonderful to have company in the water," said Bruwer. "Herman is a fantastic swimmer and helped keep me motivated to swim at a strong pace, and it was nice to have a friendly energy next to me, especially when at one point, there was huge commotion about 1,5m underneath us and all we could see was bubbles which was a bit startling. He was the first to regain composure and to realise it was just an adventurous seal!”

Bruwer's pilot, Bjorn von During, from South African Shark Conservancy, praised the swimmer's efforts despite difficult conditions in the water: "Carina left Hermanus one hour prior to low water, so she had slack tides for the first two hours. At the two and half hour mark, the tides then started pushing hard against her. The following day was spring tides, so she had 2kts pushing against her – which made the 21km more like 27km. The ocean did play her part giving us pristine conditions otherwise, and she sent all her magnificent creatures along for the swim."

01  Cover  April

Issue 48 April 2021

  • Revival! Celebrating our pools and lidos
  • The environmental impact of your swim kit
  • Top tips for returning to swimming after lockdown
  • How to find a wetsuit that fits
  • Legends of the selkies – the myths of underwater folk

Swim Wild and Free

Sign up to our newsletter and receive a free five-part series on the fundamentals of freestyle by Olympic silver medallist Keri-anne Payne.