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Kouga-Express
Open water swim champs takes off in JBay
Kouga Councillor, Brenton Williams, tests the water at Marina Martinique to ensure the venue is ready for the NMB Aquatics Open Water Swim Champs this weekend. Photo: SUPPLIED

MARINA Martinique will once again be the venue for the Nelson Mandela Bay Open Water Swim Championship, as swimmers from all over the country dust off their goggles to participate in the Swim South Africa-sanctioned event.

Despite entries being restricted, due to COVID–19 restrictions, top swimmers from around the country are expected to be in attendance, with one of South Africa’s top open water swimmers, Hanre Louw, expected to race in the 10km swim.

Louw, no stranger to Jeffreys Bay, where his parents have a holiday home, is the defending Marina Mile champion. Amica de Jager, the Eastern Cape’s top 10km contender, will also be looking to impress in her first swim of 2021.

It has been a tough year for open water swimmers, with beaches being closed and events being severely impacted by COVID-19 regulations.

However, Kouga Municipality, NMB Aquatics, Swim SA and Zsport have all been working hard behind the scenes to ensure that open water swim events can once again take place at Marina Martinique, regarded as the open water swim capital of Africa.

The enclosed canals at Marina Martinique, fresh sea water, which is quality tested on a regular basis, and the lack of wildlife mean that swimmers can enjoy the event and concentrate on swimming fast times.

The NMB Aquatics Champs this weekend is a qualifier for the South African Open Water Swim Champs, which will also be taking place in Jeffreys Bay in middle March.

The SA Champs will be an official qualifier for the 2021 Olympic Games 10km marathon swim. Owing to COVID-19 regulations, no spectators will be allowed at the event this weekend and only 100 swimmers and officials will be allowed at the venue.

Kouga Executive Mayor, Horatio Hendricks, has welcomed the event and said it was a positive sign for tourism in Jeffreys Bay and the wider Kouga region.

“Prior to COVID-19, we had positioned Kouga to be the events capital of South Africa with open water swimming being a big contributor to events tourism,” he said.

“Eight open water swim events were taking place every season at Marina Martinique, including the SA Champs which have been held every year in Jeffreys Bay since 2017.

“It is pleasing to see open water swimming leading the way in bringing provincial and national level events back to Kouga.”

Registration for the event starts at 08:00 and the 10km, 7,5km and the 5km swims start at 09:00. This is followed by the 1km swim at 09:05, while the men’s 3km event begins at 11:00 and the women’s 3km swim at 11:05.

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