Sabrina Swims into Choppy Waters

The rough sea conditions failed to deter a record field of ocean swimmers in the annual Sabrina Love Ocean Challenge presented by Discovery. Big waves and rip currents on the 22nd of December forced the organisers of Plettenberg Bays biggest sporting event to reroute the feature 5km ocean swim event for only the second time in the events eleven year history. The ocean swim which traditionally starts in Roberg Corner and runs parallel to the beach to finish around Beacon Island on Look Out Beach was rerouted onto a 5 lap course within the confinement and relative shelter of Plettenberg Bay’s Central & Lookout beach. Any disappointment felt by the swimmers at being prevented from participating in the much revered classic Sabrina Love Ocean course was soon splashed aside as the enormous waves turned even the less exposed course into a spectacular and challenging epic event.
Each lap of the course, which involved exiting the surf and running around a flag on the beach, may have had one or two of the purists of Ocean swimming muttering under their breath initially but that was soon forgotten as the thousands of beach based spectators of this year’s event were treated to nothing short of swimming spectator extravaganza. Swimmers exiting and re-entering the ocean through the breakers brought the action right to the events central hub and it was breath-taking. The one mile swim followed on a similar course and was as exciting to watch and incredibly challenging to participate in. Despite the rough conditions both events were concluded without incident and Race Director Mark Collins credits the support of Station 14s NSRI volunteers and the Plettenberg Bays Municipal Beach Control and Surf Life Savers for the safe management of the race.
Olympic Long distance swimmer and six time winner of the event Chad Ho defended his title with a dominant display of ocean swimming. The woman’s race was won by Emma Wallis. Marc Hammond and Carina Bruwer won the inaugural 1mile Ocean Swim.
The three day Sabrina Love Ocean Challenge is hosted on Plettenberg Bay’s Look Out Beach and the Magnificent Kurland Estate. In addition to the two ocean swims the event includes a Beach Walk a 10km Beach & Urban run, two Trail Runs and Mountain Bike race and the beloved adventure run; the Kids of Steel . The annual Challenge is the main fundraising event for the Sabrina Love Foundation a foundation dedicated to the care of children with special needs.