Cape Town ‘Laatjie’ Completes World Record Swim

Cameron Bellamy is the first person to swim around Barbados

CAMERON Bellamy clearly does not like to sit still.

First it was rowing at school, then at Rhodes University. He rowed so much he made the South African squad.

Next came cycling. A few warm up laps around the block while living in China, then all the way from his front door to Southern India.

Now the human exercise machine has swum all the way around the Island of Barbados – the first person to do so. He did it non-stop, all 96km, unassisted apart from a few snacks from his buddies in a boat alongside.

The word legend comes to mind. And he’s only 36.

But Bellamy insists he is an accidental hero, intending only to raise money for his charity which supports Early Childhood Development in the Eastern Cape and Zimbabwe. Brought up in Cape Town he is now an entrepreneur in San Francisco, where he took a call from SABBEX to discuss his latest feat.

Why did you do it? “It has definitely been a natural progression — I feel like I’ve been training on the endurance front since I was 13, except for a brief hiatus when I lived in Beijing for three years,” he says. “It started with crew rowing, then cycling, then swimming, then ocean rowing, and back to swimming. I love my work and career so I’ve always looked for a life balance where I can manage my endurance/adventure side with work and charity projects.”

Growing up in Cape Town with a sporty dad also helped: “I’ve always had a love of water, especially the ocean. My father sailed for both Australia and South Africa and so we kind of grew up on the ocean in Cape Town,” says Bellamy.

The big turning point however was his cycle trip to India, done “on a whim” while living in Beijing. “I spoke to a couple of friends and essentially we wanted to keep doing cool stuff but raising money for charity, for worthy causes like early childhood development,” he explains.

Several expeditions followed, among them cycling the length of the UK, rowing across the Indian Ocean, and swimming the English Channel. “I had never really swum before that and I just managed to get across, although I really enjoyed it,” Bellamy recalls.

Swimming was soon his exertion of choice, with many strokes in an assortment of exotic locations.

However the idea to swim around Barbados happened almost by accident: “I went to visit a South African friend who lived in Barbados. At the time I was training for a swim in Hawaii.  I asked him about swimming around Barbados and he told me three people had tried but never managed it. That sparked my interest.”

Much training later Bellamy decided to give it a go, in September this year. He made it two thirds of the way – 66km. “I had a really good first third but I died in the middle – the current was against me.”

Never one to give up, he went back last month (November) and made it all the way – the first person to do so and the fourth longest unassisted sea swim ever.

Not bad for a guy who says he never used to swim much.

Bellamy’s exploits took a bit of getting used to, but are hardly a surprise says his mom Janita: “Cameron always had an adventurous streak and was hugely independent,” she recalls. “As a youngster on a family visit to some fun water park, Cameron would instantly disappear on arrival and seconds later be seen coming down some terrifying death-defying water slide. The viper slide for instance at Sun City — no fear at all.”

“As a young man we always seemed to be taking him to a train station or airport and he just never looked back. I am immensely proud of him and just love getting the call to come over wherever he is in the world to support him,” she says.

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