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Friday, November 29, 2013

Smell The Sea, Feel The Sky In Memory Of Burgert van der Westhuizen

Fellow Jeffreys Bay swimmer Brenton Williams fondly and respectfully remembers Burgert van der Westhuizen, a South African swimmer who tragically passed away while swimming in Jeffreys Bay after an offshore shark attack at the age of 74 last month.

Van der Westhuizen was an experienced open water swimmer who regularly swam along the coastline of Jeffreys Bay and in the canals of Marina Martinique.

"Open water swimming is a relatively new addition to the world of extreme sports.

Swimming in just a Speedo type costume, goggles and a swim cap in any conditions and either warm or cold water is not for the faint of heart. Burgert van der Westhuizen was one of those people who found himself drawn to the challenges posed by open water swimming and was a regular in the water at Marina Martinique.

However, his first love was swimming along the coast of Jeffreys Bay. He regularly swam past the iconic surf breaks of Supertubes and the Point.

Despite not having much cold water experience, a water temperature of 14ºC (57ºF) did not deter Burgert from entering the 2012 JBay Swim Challenge, an event that started at Main Beach and ended 4 km later at the Point. It took Burgert just under 2 hours to complete the swim and despite staggering out the water at Point and having to be treated for hyperthermia afterwards, he was determined to finish the swim. He was the oldest swimmer in the water that day and he earned the respect of the entire swim community for his efforts.

I remember watching Burgert swim in the Marina a couple of years ago and thinking to myself, 'I hope I will be swimming as strongly as him when I am in my 70’s.' Burgert was fit and strong for his age and totally capable of swimming 3 km in under an hour. Burgert was also the only other swimmer I know who carried a thermometer with him and measured the water temperature all the time. We would chat with each other and compare our findings as we often swam at different times of the day.

The risk of a swimmer being attacked by a shark is a risk that Burget felt was minimal and that was why he swam so much off our coast.

On the day that he was attacked, the conditions were perfect for a swim with clear conditions, warm water and almost no wind. There was no indication that something could have gone wrong. The attack has devastated the swimmers and surfers of Jeffreys Bay but we take comfort in the knowledge that Burgert died doing something he loved and lived for. We are going to miss seeing Burgert in the water and his warm smile and friendly disposition

Hark, now hear the sailors cry, smell the sea, and feel the sky
let your soul & spirit fly, into the mystic..
.” van Morrison

Photo by Carl Newman.

Copyright © 2013 by World Open Water Swimming Association

A Thank You Gift from WOWSA

WOWSA is celebrating the
1-Year Anniversary of the monthly Open Water Swimming Magazine
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Open Water Swimming Magazine Anniversary Issue
File Size: 13MB


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Open Water Swimming Magazine

Open Water Swimming Magazine

The Open Water Swimming Magazine is the monthly magazine entirely focused on open water swimming heroes and heroines of every age, ability, and background. Published by the World Open Water Swimming Association, the Open Water Swimming Magazine is a free benefit to WOWSA members.

WOWSA Member Benefits include 12 issues of the Open Water Swimming Magazine, the annual 276-page Open Water Swimming Almanac, a free listing in Sponsor My Swim, outstanding product discounts from FINIS, an entry in Openwaterpedia and more...

The Other Shore

The Other Shore follows world record holder and legendary swimmer Diana Nyad as she comes out of a thirty-year retirement to re-attempt an elusive dream: swimming 103 miles non-stop from Cuba to Florida without the use of a shark cage. Her past and present collide in her obsession with a feat that nobody has ever accomplished. At the edge of The Devil’s Triangle, tropical storms, sharks, venomous jellyfish, and one of the strongest ocean currents in the world, all prove to be life-threatening realities. Timothy Wheeler’s documentary brings Diana Nyad’s extraordinary adventure to life as Diana sets out to prove that will and determination are all you need to make the unimaginable possible.

2014 Open Water Swimming Almanac

An Almanac for Open Water Swimming

An almanac is essentially a body of knowledge which is so complete that it enables people in different fields to make predictions about the future of their respective industries.

This, for example, was the purpose of the traditional farmers almanacs. It enabled farmers to determine as accurately as possible which crops to plant for the greatest harvests in a given year.

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There are, of course, many different kinds of almanacs.

In fact, there is even one for open water swimming...

Preview the Open Water Swimming Almanac:

The trends are very clear.
The tide is rising for open water swimming.


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