Lelané Rossouw-Bancroft

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Lelané Rossouw-Bancroft wearing her prestigious International Ice Swimming Association jacket
Lelané Rossouw-Bancroft
Lelané Rossouw-Bancroft is a 34-year-old South African cold-water swimmer who was the first to swim across Delaware Bay without a wetsuit. She succeeded on 11 September 2011 in 10 hours 22 minutes under rough conditions. She is also a member of the International Ice Swimming Association.

Lelané started with American Jason Malick, Suzanna Aguilar Dann and Jim Clifford in a 12.4-mile swim across Delaware Bay and was the first to overcome strong oncoming currents.

Contents

History of the Cross Delaware Bay Swim

From the Philadelphia Inquirer newspaper on June 26th, 1912: At daybreak next Sunday, Charles R. Durborow, a 29-year-old Philadelphia bank clerk, recognized by the London Times as one of the world’s best long-distance swimmers, will attempt the hardest swim in the world by trying to cross the Delaware Bay from Cape May to Cape Henlopen, which on account of the strong currents, will be equal to 40 miles in still water. This feat will require anywhere from 10 to 15 hours to accomplish. Captain F. R. Brewer of the Lewes Maritime Exchange, in a letter to Durborow has told him that “from all he has found out from those who claim to know all about it” the swim cannot be made on account of the swift tide in and out of the bay, but others say “if you can hold out long enough, start at half ebb tide, somewhere above Swell’s Point, to avoid the Cape May Shoals, you might make it.” The big bank clerk, who has been training all week at Atlantic City, says he has never been in better condition, but admits “he is only human and may not be able to battle the elements.” Durborow will be accompanied by Dr. J. K. Shell to look out for his physical condition, Billy Curwen, his coach, Captain Edward Burke, Atlantic Life Guard, will act as his pilot, James H. Sterrett of the Sporting Writers Association will be official reporter. Bankers Dave Carson of Central Trust, Ben Cloud of Philadelphia National and N. G. Wood of Provident Trust, and other admirers will make up the party who will follow the swimmer in a large power launch.

Apparently, Durborow succeeded in his attempt because it is mentioned a year later, on August 4th 1913 by the Boston Journal, when it reported that Durborow was giving up long-distance swimming:

Charles Durborow of the Philadelphia Swimming club, admitted by experts to be the greatest long-distance swimmer ever developed in the country, will seek no more laurels in grueling tests of aquatic endurance. He has had a brilliant career and no one has equaled his splendid performances. World swimming judges maintain that his Delaware Bay swim of 1912 — when he covered a shade under 20 miles, across tide, from Cape May, N.J., to Cape Henlopen, Del., in 14 hours and 13 minutes using the trudgen stroke all the way — stands out as the greatest bit of swimming ever done by man.

Wetsuit Swim Success

Paul Timmons swam across this stretch of water in July 2006 in a wetsuit from Cape May Point to Cape Henlopen.

Lelané's Course

Swimming as a traditionalist, Rossouw-Bancroft started from a point north of Cape May at Higbee Beach and landed south of Cape Henlopen in Rehobeth Beach.

Rossouw-Bancroft's swim route is posted here.

Ice Swim Attempt

Bering Strait Swim

Rossouw-Bancroft will also be a member of the Bering Strait Swim, a 53-mile (86 km) relay swim attempt from Cape Dezhnev in Chukotka, Russia, to Cape Prince of Wales in the state of Alaska, USA among a team of experienced extreme swimmers.

1. Yuri Tsiganchuk, Blagoveshchensk, Russia
2. Yuri Myagkikh, Russia
3. Vladimir Chegorin, Russia
4. Maria Chizhova, Novosibirsk, Russia
5. Elena Guseva, Russia
6. Kieron Palframan, Cape Town, South Africa
7. Ram Barkai, Cape Town, South Africa
8. Jack Bright, UK
9. Vladimir Litvinov, Blagoveshchensk, Russia
10. Oksana Veklich, Blagoveshchensk, Russia
11. Aleksandr Jakovlev, Jelgava, Latvia
12. Matías Ola, Buenos Aires /Tucuman Argentina
13. Henri Kaarma, Tallinn, Estonia
14. Toomas Haggi, Tallinn, Estonia
15. Nuala Moore, Ireland
16. Anne Marie Ward, Donegal, Ireland
17. Claudia Rose, San Diego, USA
18. Toks Viviers, Cape Town, South Africa
19. Melissa O’Reilly (‘Mo’), Lambertville, New Jersey, USA
20. Ryan Stramrood, Cape Town, South Africa
21. Colin Hill, Ambleside, UK
22. Cristian Vergara, Santiago, Chile
23. Lelané Rossouw-Bancroft, Newark, Delaware, USA
24. Rafał Ziobro, Krakow, Poland
25. Andrew Chin, Cape Town, South Africa
26. Jackie Cobell, Tunbridge Wells, UK
27. Paul Duffield, West Kelowna, BC, Canada

Video

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