On Friday 11 December, Alwyn Uys a 30-year-old paraplegic athlete set out to brace the icy waters of Bloubergstrand and swim the length of 8kms to complete the ‘Robben Island crossing’.
Although other athletes with disabilities have completed the crossing, Uys is said to be the first paraplegic to do so.
The News24 reports that Uys’s boat left from Oceana Power Boat club on Friday morning at approximately 06:00. Keith Jansen, Uys’s swimming trainer also told the publication that the weather conditions “were better than what they expected”.
The Citizen reported that the swim was initially scheduled to take place in December 2019, but due to bad weather conditions did not happen.
Jansen further told The Citizen that “As we started out, I knew [that] the day wasn’t going to remain the way that it is, I could see the ocean is getting a bit choppy, so I had nerves about that.”
His training pattern, resting routine and mental health played a fundamental role in the successful completion of the swim.
“The current was definitely quite strong for at least half of the way and also quite a big swell which really threw me off balance, which made it difficult for me because I don’t use my legs to kick at all so keeping my core and my body straight in the water is really a challenge,” explained Uys.
Uys said that the weather conditions changed towards the end of the swim and he quickly realised that the end was not going to be easy.
Derrick Frazer, the owner of Big Bay Events, skippered the boat that led Uys told The Citizen that a strong ‘side-on’ current was a major challenge and increased the difficulty of the swim. “It was very tough to get in there, but he fought it through,” said Frazer.
Uys said he drew strength from his Christian faith to face the physical and mental challenges throughout the swim. Jansen said that everything Alwyn prayed for was almost given to him and they were so excited.
“He did exceptionally well and I’m really proud of him,” said Jansen
Uys is eager to compete in a full Iron Man event in Port Elizabeth “whenever that may be”, he joked.