False Bay

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Swim course across False Bay from Rooi Els to Miller's Point
Annemie Landmeters, first person to complete a False Bay Crossing in 1989
The first 34 km False Bay Relay Swim across False Bay from Pringle Bay to Buffels Bay near Cape Point was completed in 10 hours 2 minutes in April 2019 by swimmers Ram Barkai, Samantha Whelpton, Jean Craven, Kieron Palframan, Clinton Le Sueur and Patrick Wilke with escort pilots Derrick Fraser and Tony Lindeque. The 6-person charity relay started in Pringle Bay at 12.6°C water temperature and continued to drop across False Bay to 11°C water for a majority of the swim where the swimmers encountered seals, jellyfish, blue bottles, and a hammerhead shark deep below.

False Bay, named such because early navigators mistook Hangklip for Cape Point, is the largest true bay in South Africa and one of the great bays of the world.

The False Bay coast is a continuous collection of seaside villages and hamlets, their narrow avenues lined with quirky and quaint shops, hotels, restaurants and pubs. Implicit in the diversity is the promise of myriad picnic spots and lookout spots, particularly during the whale season when whales enter the bay to calve.

Some of the most popular of these in and around Cape Town include Muizenberg - popular amongst surfers and swimmers alike – Kalk Bay – a little character fishing village, with a vibrant day and night life – and Simon’s Town – the historical naval village. The wide stretches of beaches central to the bay - Monwabisi, Macassar and Mnandi - are favoured for fishing, whilst the villages of Rooiels, Hanglip and Pringle Bay all offer cosy getaways.

False Bay Crossings

  • False Bay Swims are governed by the False Bay Swimming Association
  • False Bay has unlimited opportunities for ocean swimming and dramatic beauty that incorporates white, sandy beaches, beautiful valleys and sweeping vistas.
  • The distance across False Bay (33 km from Rooiels to Miller’s Point) is a daunting prospect even for the most primed marathon swimmer - it has eluded almost 90% of those who have tried - and has been attempted 22 times with only 5 successes to date.
  • The first success achieved by world-renowned Belgian swimmer Annemie Landmeters in 1989 and repeated 15 years later in 2004 by South African distance swimming ace Steven Klugman. In February 2006, Cape Town's Carina Bruwer became the third swimmer, and a year later Barend Nortje became the 4th and fastest swimmer to successfully cross the False Bay. Ned Denison completed the 35 km crossing on 30 December 2012 in 11 hours 5 minutes.
  • The difficulty of this swim of 34 km is attributed to strong and unpredictable currents and winds, icy and often inconsistent water temperatures (ranging from 9°C to 20°C), and the fact that False Bay has one of the highest populations of Great white sharks in the world.


The traditional starting point is Rooi Els on the western end of the False Bay to Miller's Point (Rumbly Bay). The shortest distance is 33 km. The water temperature can be anything between 9°C and 19°C with strong and often unpredictable currents.

Successful Swimmers

1. 30 January 1989: Annemie Landmeters (Belgium) from Rooi Els to Simonstown in 9 hours 56 minutes
2. 15 February 2004: Steven Klugman (South Africa) from Rooi Els to Miller's Point in 14 hours 15 minutes
3. 26 February 2006: Carina Bruwer (South Africa) from Rooi Els to Miller's Point in 11 hours 58 minutes
4. 5 March 2007: Barend Nortje (South Africa) from Rooi Els to Miller's Point in 9 hours 33 minutes
5. 30 December 2012: Ned Denison (Ireland) from Rooi Els to Miller's Point in 11 hours 5 minutes 0 seconds
6. 11 January 2022: Ross Duncan (South Africa) from Rooi Els to Miller's Point in 8 hours 49 minutes 24 seconds
7. 20 February 2022: Simon Ince (South Africa) from Rooi Els to Miller's Point in 10 hours 42 minutes seconds
8. 1 March 2022: Kyle Stephens (South Africa) from Rooi Els to Miller's Point in 8 hours 8 minutes 15 seconds
9. 18 March 2021: Ryan Stramrood (South Africa) from Miller's Point to Rooi Els in 8 hours 39 minutes 50 seconds
10. 6 May 2023: Linda Thompson (South Africa) from Miller’s Point to Rooi Els in 11 hours 28 minutes 5 seconds
11. 14 April 2023: Shubham Dhananjay Vanmali (India) from Miller’s Point to Rooi Els in 9 hours 46 minutes 49 seconds

Ned Denison Crossing

Ned Denison (Ireland) from Rooi Els to Miller's Point in 11 hours 5 minutes

The Dangers From Sharks

False Bay is known for its abundance of huge Great white sharks. You only have to tune into any of the National Geographic Channel shark programs to get a good idea of what lurks below. It would be foolish to ignore the dangers, and while Landmeters and many swimmers who attempted the crossing in earlier years (including international legends such Kevin Murphy, and South African Channel swimmers such as Peter Bales, Hugh Tucker and Theo Yach swam without a cage or any protection whatsoever; since 2004 all swimmers attempting the swim have made use of a Shark shield - an electronic shark repellent device attached to the swimmer's support boat.

Since records began in the 1800's, there has been around 122 shark attacks in False Bay, of which 36 resulted in serious injuries and 27 were fatal. Many believe that the number of shark attacks in False Bay have increased dramatically since Shark cage diving began off Dyer Island in 1989.

External links