Paul Blackbeard (born in Durban on 19 February 1958 is a 63-year-old open water swimmer. He was an accomplished competitive swimmer who held numerous South African records, but was never able to participate in the Olympics. He was a member of the Queens Park Amateur Swimming Club. He competes in masters pool swimming, open water racing, pool and surf lifesaving. He sails, he swims the Rottnest Channel Swim each year, he holds Triple Springbok Colours. Born in Zambia, he was raised in South Africa and resides in Perth, Australia. He founded the South African Masters Swimming Association at the age of 25.
He simultaneously held 13 South African Age Group records at one time in the mid- to late 1970's, a feat unequalled by anyone else in South African swimming history. He peaked at the 1975 South African National Championships in Johannesburg in 1975 where he won 9 gold medals in the 100m and 200m freestyle, 100m and 200m butterfly, 200m and 400m individual medal and 3 relay gold’s in the 4x100m and 4x200m freestyle and the 4x100m medley relay.
During 'Hell Week', he trained 20 km a day in the pool.
He represented South Africa at surf lifesaving and still-water lifesaving to become a triple Springbok, representing his country in 3 separate sports. He received an honorary life membership from the Queen Park Club in 1975. He was the world surf race champion (age 50-54) and won numerous national and international surf race titles. He set the Masters World Record for the 200m Obstacle race (a pool lifesaving event).This was an event where, 38 years earlier he had broken the open world record in Barcelona, Spain. He was awarded the State President’s Award for this result.
At 25, Blackbeard started the masters swimming organisation in South Africa. At the 10th FINA World Masters Swimming Championships in Perth, Paul won the title of World Champion for the 100m butterfly.
Open Water Swimming
Blackbeard won the Midmar Mile in 1977 and won numerous times the 3.5 km Mainstay Swim from Pirates to South Beach with a compulsory stop at North Beach. He competed in the Red House River Mile in Port Elizabeth and the Robben Island relay event. He competed in the Rottnest Channel Swim in Perth, Australia finishing 7th position at the age of 52 training under Shelley Taylor-Smith. He won the overall duo category and mixed team category in subsequent years at Rotto and finished third at the 2014 Rottnest Channel Swim behind two under-30 year olds.
At the age of 53 on 4 October 2011, Blackbeard won the Circle of Valour award for sport.
Blackbeard owns a management consulting business (Argil) in Australia, which is focused on Southeast Asia. He worked for 34 years in the corporate world in Africa, Europe, America and Asia and after 'retiring' at age 50 and going sailing for a few years, he missed the intellectual stimulation of business so started his own.
Greatest Watermen in Open Water Swimming History
1. Zacharias Alexandrakis (Macedonia): Marathon swimming enthusiast, open water swimming promoter, lifeguard, swimming coach and lifesaving leader.
2. Antonio Argüelles Díaz-González (Mexico): Triathlete, ultra-endurance athlete, channel swimmer and author
3. Stathis Avramidis, Ph.D. (Greece): Researcher, swimmer, author, speaker, and lecturer
4. Peter Bales (South Africa): Channel swimmer, marathon swimmer, governing body administrator and escort pilot
5. Vito Bialla (U.S.A.): Extreme relay swimmer, professional sailor, and escort pilot of the Farallon Islands, California
6. Paul Blackbeard (South Africa): World-class pool swimmer, ocean swimmer, and life saver
7. Lord Byron (Great Britain): Poet, author and pioneering sea swimmer
8. Dick Campion (Australia): Olympian, coach, trainer, author, promoter, and professional marathon swimmer
9. Daniel Eulogio Carpio Massioti (Peru): Four-time Olympian, Channel swimmer, professional racer, and solo swimmer
10. Bruckner Chase (U.S.A.): marathon swimmer, ocean advocate, ambassador to the disabled, filmmaker, paddler and surf lifesaver
11. Buster Crabbe (U.S.A.): Olympic champion, ice swimmer, promoter, and movie star of 3 pulp fiction heroes
12. Guy Delage (France): Ocean swimmer, extreme adventurer, diver, submariner, and sailor
13. Marcos Díaz (Dominican Republic): Marathon racer, extreme swimmer, surfer, governing body administrator, and event director
14. Shannon Eckstein (Australia): Ironman lifesaver, paddler, kayaker, surf skier and ocean swimmer
15. Ian Emberson (Kauai, U.S.A.): Channel swimmer, original Ironman triathlete, ocean swimmer, event director, and triathlete
16. George Freeth (Hawai, U.S.A.): Ocean swimmer, surfer, paddler, and lifesaver organizer
17. Alfréd Hajós (Hungary): Olympic champion, professional racer, and architect
18. Trevor Hendy (Australia): Ironman lifesaver, paddler, kayaker, surf skier and ocean swimmer
19. Colin Hill (Great Britain): Ice swimmer, Channel swimmer, television commentator, and event director
20. Craig Hummer (U.S.A.): Competitive swimmer, kayaker, paddler, Ironman lifesaver, and Olympic television commentator
21. Ky Hurst (Australia): Ocean swimmer, two-time Olympian, body surfer extraordinaire, and champion life saver
22. Zhang Jian (China): Marathon swimmer, Channel swimmer, ice swimmer and university sports director
23. Captain Tim Johnson (U.S.A.): Marathon swimmer, author, professor, shark cage designer, analyst, and historian
24. Duke Kahanamoku (Hawaii): Ocean swimmer, Olympic champion, surfing legend and ambassador of aloha
25. Grant Kenny (Australia): Ironman lifesaver, paddler, kayaker, surf skier and ocean swimmer
26. Guy Leech (Australia): Ironman lifesaver, paddler, kayaker, surf skier and ocean swimmer
27. Luiz Eduardo Carneiro da Silva de Souza Lima (Brazil): Two-time Olympian, stand-up paddler, ocean swimming coach, pioneering ocean swimmer and promoter
28. Pádraig Mallon (Ireland): Marathon swimmer, Channel swimmer, ice swimmer, event organizer, promoter and triathlete
29. Vojislav Mijić (Serbia): Marathon swimmer, professional racer, solo pioneer and event organizer
30. Masayuki Moriya (Japan): Coach, channel swimmer, event organizer, clinician, and governing body administrator
31. Keo Nakama (Hawaii/U.S.A.): World champion, world record holder, pioneering ocean swimmer, event organizer and coach
32. Aaron Peirsol (U.S.A.): 7-time Olympic medalist, surfer, lifeguard, coach, and body surfer extraordinaire
33. Lewis Pugh (Great Britain): Channel swimmer, marathon swimmer, ocean advocate, ambassador, author, and speaker
34. Kevin Richards (South Africa): Competitive swimmer, triathlete, surf lifesaver, and coach
35. Philip Rush (New Zealand): Channel swimmer, marathon swimmer, professional racer, escort pilot, channel administrator, and fire fighter
36. Wayne Riddin (South Africa): Competitive swimmer, race director, aquapreneur, coach and promoter
37. Veljko Rogošić (Croatia): Two-time Olympic swimmer, professional racer, solo pioneer, swimming ambassador and marathon swimmer
38. Kenny Rust (Hawaii, U.S.A.): Ocean swimmer, lifeguard, aquapreneur, and event safety official
39. Ori Sela (Israel): Sea swimmer, coach, therapist, pioneer relay swimmer and aquapreneur
40. Borut Strel (Slovenia): Coach, swimmer, clinician, planner and logistic expert
41. Martin Strel (Slovenia): Channel swimmer, marathon swimmer, extreme adventurer, film protagonist, and camp clinician
42. Georgios-Ioannis Tsianos, M.D., Ph.D. (Greece): Research scientist, physician, expedition medic and Channel swimmer
43. Christof Wandratsch (Germany): Channel swimmer, professional racer, solo pioneer, ice swimming record holder and event promoter
44. Captain Matthew Webb (Great Britain): Channel swimmer, extreme adventurer, and professional racer
45. Johnny Weissmuller (U.S.A.): 4-time Olympic champion and movie star with a household name
46. Alick Wickham (Solomon Islands): Ocean swimmer, high diver, body surfing promoter, surfboard shaper, and freestyle ambassador
47. Patrick Winkler (Brazil): Competitive swimmer, ocean swimmer, stand-up paddler, race promoter and publisher of The Swim Channel Magazine
48. Jabez Wolffe (Great Britain): Channel aspirant and coach in the early generations of channel swimming
49. Doug Woodring (Hong Kong/U.S.A.): Marine environment ambassador, ecology advocate, aquapreneur, ocean event director, paddler, diver, and ocean swimmer
50. David Yudovin (U.S.A.): Channel swimmer, marathon swimmer, aquapreneur, benefactor and mariner