You’ve done the training, you’ve signed up for the event, and the conditions are (hopefully) playing game. To help you prepare the final details, we’ve put together a Robben Island Swim Guide to help get you across the finish line.
Robben Island Swim Guide – Chapter 1
Days leading up to the swim:
- Pack your bag – make sure your costume, cap, goggles, towel (and wetsuit) are ready to go.
- Get your food/snacks ready for swim day – read our blog on Fueling for Exercise.
- Eat well and hydrate – load your meals with fresh fruit and veggies and drink lots of water. Avoid oily, sugary and very rich foods the day before the swim, or anything that might bloat or upset your tummy.
- Get to bed early – it’s quite normal to feel a bit anxious the night before an event, so try to get adequate sleep during the week leading up to the swim.
Robben Island Swim Guide – Chapter 2
The morning of the swim:
- Eat a meal 3-4 hours before your swim start, keeping your breakfast as close to normal as possible. If you lose your appetite, have something small, and split it in two.
- Add a top-up snack 1-2 hours before the swim if you are hungry, or on the move. Choose foods that are small, tasty and easy on the tummy.
- Wear sunscreen – apply sunscreen at home, so that you don’t have to fuss about putting in on while on the boat.
- Get to the meeting point early – know what time you need to meet and where you need to be. For the Robben Island Swim, the boats will ferry you across either from Oceana (Granger Bay, next to the V&A Waterfront), or from the Big Bay Lifesaving Club in Blouberg.
Remember the Golden Rule – Never try anything new on race day! This applies to everything from gear to meals.
Robben Island Swim Guide – Chapter 3
What to expect during the swim:
- For a standard Robben Island Crossing, you will be swimming from the island to mainland Blouberg. Read more about the Rules of Open Water Swimming if you’d like to get your skins swim recognised as an official crossing.
- The boat will ferry you to the island, where you will be dropped close to the shore, and you will need to swim a short distance from the boat to the shore.
- The clock starts with you standing on the shore of Robben Island, where you will reenter the water and start your swim.
- Pace yourself. Start swimming slowly. Your body needs a few hundred metres to adjust to the water temperature and for the muscles to “warm up”. Once you feel comfortable in the water, you can start picking up the speed to a moderate, sustainable pace, making sure to leave enough energy for the journey ahead.
- Link up with your support boat that will be staying next to you throughout the swim. If you breathe to one side only, position yourself so that you breathe towards the boat. Allow the boat to guide you, as they will have GPS to keep you on the straightest possible path.
- Make sure that you’ve arranged the timing and logistics of your feeds with your support crew. We recommend stopping for a quick feed break every 30 minutes throughout the swim.
- The boat will follow you until the last few hundred metres of the swim, where you will continue swimming through the shore break and touch down on the sand in Blouberg. Make sure to clear the water at the end to officially complete your swim.
Robben Island Swim Guide – Chapter 4
After the swim:
- Dry yourself and change out of your wet costume as soon as possible – the after drop is on its way! Layer up with warm clothes and make sure you’re out of the way of any cold draughts.
- Ask support crew to have warming aids ready for you (blankets, beanies, warm drink etc.) and to help you change and rewarm if necessary.
- Eating a carbohydrate/protein based meal soon after your swim will help with recovery.
- Celebrate your victory – you have completed your Robben Island Crossing!