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Day Six - Swimming with sharks (almost)

28th September 2011

snow -13 °C

Today was a day of sorting stuff out. We had some shopping to do. We were in desperate need of a few things including guide books, a camping mat and most importantly, travel scrabble. A Swahili speaking chap in Kenya beat Oli and I in 1993. Revenge is best served cold and he has no idea we’re coming...

With boring stuff done Emma asked would I like to go for a swim. At this point I'll introduce you all to Emma Alsop,vet extraordinaire. We lived with Emma in Durban before she moved to the McVeigh practice in the cape. Apart from being a vet and an awesome laugh, she swims for fun in some of the most shark infested waters in the world. Not only that, she breaks world records in doing so, recently knocking half an hour off the previous world record for swimming from Cape Town to Robben Island (Mandelas’ old haunt) and back. That’s about 16kms without a wetsuit through water that gets to 9oC and a place that Great White sharks call home (and dinner time apparently.) In my book that means she’s a world record holding mentalist so the invite couldn’t be refused really.

I got my trunks out (shorts, don’t get excited) and Emma had lent me a fetching red cap. At this point I should probably announce that the same morning a guy got eaten by a shark in Muizenberg. That’s not as far away as I'd have liked but did add some intredipidity to the affair. This was it... Emma had chosen Clifton beach, there are four beaches at Clifton and one of them is for chaps of a chap-o-philic nature. It didn’t matter because a.) sexuality aside, with my pallid white flesh, slender physique and newly added man handles I was attractive to all beings, they’re not made of wood, and Somers agreed. And b.) when I got out of the ocean I’d be a shivering mess for a while with my genitals back where they began life somewhere near my kidneys.

Not to be a wimp, Somers took a piccie of Emma and I, declined once again to join us and watched as we hit the Atlantic. I took it like a man, straight in, only one girly squeak and we were swimming. The view was stunning, out to sea the sun was dipping and inland the hills glowed in its evening warmth with Table Mountain looming in the background. This was fantastic, and as I started to lose feeling in my upper body, I couldn’t help but think how sublime the scenery looked. As I clawed at the water, my brain contracting and my lungs suddenly asthmatic, I tried not to think of the sharks. (I’d already seen the YouTube aftermath of the guy getting eaten that morning, the bystanders videoing the 15m shark circling the rescue boats, its’ fin protruding intermittently.) I may have panicked slightly. I put my head down and started ploughing through the water trying to keep up with Em. When I put my painfully cold head back above the surface I’d started swimming in a curve, out to sea. By this point, I have to say that I’d embraced the magic, experienced the thrill, and braved the cold. I had the t-shirt and now it was time to get the f out. I’d been swimming for about seven and a half minutes! We turned for home and I swam for my life. Back on land I shivered like a Zulu in the arctic, I held on to all that was dear to me to try and warm him up but he wasn’t risking coming out again just yet.

Warm showers all round and another boozy evening.

Posted by ibeamish 11:48 Archived in South Africa

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