A veteran swims in the history books


Simon Ince was accompanied by a support team, consisting of the skipper and safety officer, along a 35km swim through False Bay. PHOTO: Riaan vanstaden

The thought of coming face to face with a great white shark didn’t deter Simon Ince, 62, from swimming 35km across False Bay from Simon’s Town to Rooi Els.

On Sunday February 20, he not only braved the water, but also set a Guinness World Record for being the oldest person to complete the False Bay crossing.

Ince says he never particularly wanted to swim across False Bay, but the decision was made about seven years ago.

“On my 55th birthday, seven years ago, I swam from Robben Island to Blouberg. The swimming community is large and growing; and many of my peers were talking about swimming across the Channel, but the cost would have been R150,000.

“I thought you were joking, why not swim across False Bay the same 35km distance?”

Simon Ince has been officially named the oldest person to successfully swim across False Bay. PHOTO: riaan vanstaden

The first 13 kilometers of the 35 km swim were the most difficult for Simon Ince due to the cold water. PHOTO: riaan vanstaden

A seal kept Simon Ince company throughout his 35km swim from Simon’s Town to Rooi Els, which he covered in 10 hours and 42 minutes. PHOTO: RIAAN VAN STADEN

Ince, originally from Somerset West, moved to Blouberg a few years ago. “I’ve done lifesaving and snorkeling and have always considered False Bay my backyard.”

He said he later discovered that only six people managed to swim the distance, and if he attempted to swim he would be the oldest.

“It was a seven-year adventure. From August last year to January this year, I ran 700 km in the pool as part of my training.

“Someone said if I was one of 10 people I would be the oldest. So I registered my swim attempt with Guinness Records in November last year.

Sunday at 05:30, accompanied by an assistance team made up of the skipper and the safety officer as well as a videographer, Ince began his journey.

“The first 13.5 kilometers cost me dearly because the water was cold, which slowed me down. But the skipper assured me that warmer water was coming.

The security guard was responsible for watching out for unwanted guests with large fins in addition to making sure Ince was given liquids every half hour.

“As soon as I entered the water at Miller’s Point, there was no doubt in my mind that the swim was over.”

He adds that his only concern was swimming past Whittle Rock, which is well known to divers and spearfishermen as an area with sharks.

“Whittle Rock is well known. In the early 80’s I encountered a great white shark, it swam around me then disappeared.

“I was worried swimming around Whittle Rock but didn’t see any sharks. I saw a seal that swam with me for 5km and made me forget about the sharks.

“Closer to Rooi Els, we also saw four sunfish which came very close.”

After 10 hours and 42 minutes, Ince completed his swim. “The only disappointment was that I had hoped to swim in less than 10 hours.”


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