False Bay Crossing

From Openwaterpedia
Swim course from Rooi Els to Miller's Point across False Bay in South Africa
Annemie Landmeters, first swimmer to cross False Bay in 1989
Steve Klugman (February 2004 crossing) and Barend Nortje (March 2007 crossing)
Carina Bruwer (February 2006 crossing)
Ned Denison (30 December, 2012

A False Bay Swim or a False Bay Crossing is a solo or relay crossing of False Bay, 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 (Dutch/Afrikaans for "Hang(ing)-rock).

It was named "False Bay" when early navigators mistook Cape Hangklip for Cape Point, which resulted in many shipwrecks in the bay with its strong cross winds and rocky routes. It is the largest true bay in South Africa and one of the great bays in the world. This icy Atlantic Ocean water body covers approximately 1000 square km, and the coastline, which makes up the Southern portion of the breathtaking Cape Peninsula, and includes the area from Muizenberg to Cape Point, is 32 km in distance.

Marathon Swimming

  • Crossing False Bay remains a daunting prospect for most hardened marathon swimmers, and an achievement that has eluded almost 90% of those who have attempted it.
  • International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame Honour Swimmer Annemie Landmeters of Belgium pioneered the swim in 1989 that was repeated 15 years later in 2004 by South African swimmer Steven Klugman. In February 2006, Cape Town's Carina Bruwer became the third swimmer and in 2007 Barend Nortje became the fourth and faster swimmer, and in December 2012 Ned Denison became the fifth swimmer to successfully cross False Bay.
  • The difficulty of this swim of about 35 km can be 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.


  • Rooi Els on the southeast side of the bay to Miller's Point, a distance of 34 km or 21.1 miles.
  • Pringle Bay to Buffels Bay, a distance of 34 km or 21.1 miles.
  • Note: The water temperature can be anything between 9°C and 19°C with strong and often unpredictable currents.

Successful Swims

1989 - Annemie Landmeters (Belgium) - Rooi Els to Simonstown - 9 hours 56 minutes
15 February, 2004 - Steven Klugman (South Africa) - Rooi Els to Miller's Point - 14 hours 15 minutes
26 February, 2006 - Carina Bruwer (South Africa) - Rooi Els to Miller's Point - 10 hours 58 minutes
5 March, 2007 - Barend Nortje (South Africa) - Rooi Els to Miller's Point - 9 hours 33 minutes
30 December, 2012 - Ned Denison (Ireland) - Rooi Els to Miller's Point - 11 hours 5 minutes


Due to the fact that so few swimmers have succeeded in this extreme swim, almost all of the swimmers have achieved records.
Female Record - Annemie Landmeters (Belgium)
First South African Male - Steven Klugman (South Africa)
First South African Female - Carina Bruwer (South Africa)
Overall / Male Record - Barend Nortje (South Africa)

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 Theodore 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