Plumstead swimmer sets new Robben Island record

Braving the cold and a 14-hour-long swim, Kim Prytz has set a new record, swimming to Robben Island from Lagoon Beach and back to Big Bay. Picture: supplied

Nearly a year after first attempting a never-before-tried Robben Island return crossing, Kim Prytz has become the first person in the world to swim from Lagoon Beach to Robben Island and back to Big Bay.

Ms Prytz did the 19.8km swim, using breaststroke, in 14 hours 31 minutes and three seconds.

The Cape Long Distance Swimming Association confirmed to the Bulletin that no-one has completed this swim and done so using breaststroke.

The record-breaking swim, which Ms Prytz termed her “reconciliation swim” was done in aid of the Goedgedacht Trust, a farm-based community-support organisation in the Swartland that supports rural children.

The swim kicked off close to midnight on Wednesday January 3 from 100 metres past the Milnerton Lighthouse, with water temperatures at 12.8 degrees Celsius.

Ms Prytz, who prefers to swim without a wetsuit, said she began the first challenge of calming her mind and focusing on the task at hand in the “profound darkness and silence”.

“I’ve never loved kelp so much entering Robben Island’s shores and getting to the designated 10-minutes rest you’re allowed after nine hours of swimming.”

The final 2km on the homeward stretch had sapped the last of her strength as she had struggled against exhaustion, cold and nausea, she said.

“There was an interminable period where I couldn’t believe I was moving. The final push, just like giving birth, was excruciating due to the currents and just to having swum for more than 14 hours.”

This was her fourth attempt at the swim.

Valerie Govender, Goedgedacht Trust marketing manager, praised Ms Prytz’s efforts, saying, “We are delighted that Kim chose Goedgedacht as her charity of choice… We are so very grateful for friends like Kim who support our work and allow us to make a difference where it matters most.”

Explaining why she referred to the crossing as her “reconciliation swim”, Ms Prytz said: “I was immersed in the ocean and experienced what flow felt like as I followed the light beam of my boat crew. I just let my thoughts go – a lesson we can all take away with us: to let attachments to people, thoughts and things completely drop off in the flow.

“There was greater surrender in my spirit for this swim than I can ever remember. A deep acceptance of whether nature would allow me into her midst or not, and I believe this total surrender is what finally allowed me to be one with the ocean and succeed. Sometimes we have to let go to have it all.

“My gratitude to everyone who helped me with this journey – the failed attempts and this grand adventure. Whilst my ultimate surrender of self was necessary, I am ever mindful that it does indeed take a community to make success happen. Thank you all.”

Ms Prytz’s swim was supported by Big Bay Events, which monitored the swim and recorded it.