July 19, 2023

The Blu_Smooth Kromme Descent 2023!

Swimmers had their work cut out for them at the start of this year’s Kromme Descent. Inclement weather made sure every single participant was aware of their mortality, but still they arrived in their numbers… some by ferry without a canopy nogal in pouring rain, some slip-sliding down the muddy road – all coming to conquer the Kromme River.

And ready to meet them were Rob Smith, safety officer, with the NSRI crew and paddle support. Kevin and Lyal were ready-steady in the Adventure Swims boat and our fantastic Rapid Emergency Medical Services team had their ambulance parked on the hill, all ready for action. The crew that had stayed at Kiewiet, Fish Eagle, and Woodpecker dorms were privy to the insane downpour at 08:00 at the start of the course. The red clay hill came rushing down the mountain and into the Kromme River, leaving a trail of clay residue in the river, just to mix things up a little. The scene was right out of the open-water swimming playbook. You hit the water and leave behind the mundane parts of your life, letting the river wash clean the crevasses of your soul with each stroke you take. Each breath reminds you that you are strong enough to withstand the storms life brings you.

And what a start. Swimmers jumped off the jetty in theatric display, and then lined up treading water in front of River Kaya awaiting the blare of the siren. And then they were off, in pairs of two, with matching race caps – game on, you picked your line and dug deep…The first 1.7km took swimmers up the Kromme, reaching an area where a new species of jellyfish has recently been discovered. Blooms occur within several estuaries along the coast, where the new species belonging to the genus Crambione is currently under investigation. Crambione is a barrel-shaped jellyfish that is mostly reddish-brown in colour. That said, its colour may vary depending on its environment. These jellies lack tentacles but have large “frilly” oral arms used for feeding and deterring predators. How do we know? Because swimmers came into contact with a bloom, ducking and diving the jellies all around them. Kromme 2023 will forever be knowns as the year it rained jellyfish J

It was a competitive end to day one. FinishTime was there to clock them in, with Team C: Craig Walland and Chris Mowbray leading the swimmers in. Team Lionfish: Michael Edmunds and Carina Bruwer taking day one in the mixed category, and Mermaid Mavericks: Ria Schoeman and Michelle Cremer taking the woman’s lead. The tail-end of the Kromme train came in strong after tough conditions shortened the race. Ending the swim with smiles and hugs, the joy of enduring contagious as swimmers came in two-by-two.

Thereafter, the swimmers gathered with waiting friends, family and seconds in the fishbowl, drying off while overlooking the Kromme. Food boxes prepared by Khaya’s Kitchen were shared. Accompanied by a warm skaap tjoppie & wors on the braai, supplied by St Francis Spar, spiced by The Mix and served with a St Francis Bakery bread roll. Washed down by nothing other than a cold St Francis Bay Brewed beer! And that was a wrap, the end of day one!

Grey skies made for a gloomy start to Day Two as swimmers started arriving in their Kromme shirts, sponsored by Birch’s Man and City Paint and Tool. The morning started with intense studying of the map, registration, and prayers that the weather would hold long enough to start and finish the day in style. Swimmers gathered round, keeping warm while listening to the briefing, and then hit the water for a second bite at the cherry. Day 2’s swimming up the canals proved to be a lot more competitive. The changing wind direction and temperatures made for “interesting” conditions.

Soon enough the boat police came in with the news that the first swimmer was already heading up the cove…And there he was, Wally had maintained the lead… with Greg Price giving him a run for his money! But Greg’s partner Graham Du Toit just couldn’t close the gap and Team C takes the race! Bravo! Carina in turn held on while pushing a group of local lads to their limits, taking 1st place overall in the mixed category with her partner Michael Edmunds, and Mermaid Mavericks took it for the ladies.

Every Kromme Descent is special. The river takes you to a place of solitude. A place where you look inwards and emerge from the river a stronger person. You trained, you showed up to brave the stormy weather, you picked your lane, and you swam your race. All the while developing an inner strength alongside your buddy, which makes the Kromme Descent such an unique swim.

As we close off another epic Kromme Descent, we would like to say a special thank you to our sponsors. Without your support it wouldn’t be possible to change people’s lives. We fly your banners at our event to honour your contributions. Eastern Cape Motors, CP&B Plumbing, Blu_Smooth Wetsuits, FoggleGoggle, St Francis Bay Spa, St Francis Bay Brewery, St Francis Bay Bakery, Woodlands Dairy, Rapid Emergency Medical Services, NSRI, Rob Smith and safety crew, Birch’s Man, City Paint and Tool, FinishTime, The Quays Restaurant, Pam Golding St Francis, Khaya’s Kitchen, The Mix, St Francis Bay Resorts, River Kaya and Skipper Shaun and the braai team.

To each and every swimmer, you are an inspiration. It has been such a pleasure to get to know each of you more intimately, sharing moments of magic between you, your friends, and now your Kromme-swim-family.

By |2023-07-20T10:35:50+02:00July 19th, 2023|Ocean Anecdotes|Comments Off on Kromme 2023 – The year it rained Jellyfish