Amazingly, Cameron Bellamy is already eyeing his next challenge: a 90k swim around Barbados, the most easterly island of the Caribbean, during the month of August 2018. This feat has previously been attempted by only a handful of swimmers but none have been successful. Recently Cameron spent a couple weeks in Barbados training in the sea, meeting with local swimmers and taking stock of what will be required to complete the longest swim of his life. His early estimate is for a 36 to 40 hour timeline to complete the swim. Pictured after a 14 hour training swim in Barbados.
While the south-west and west coasts of Barbados offer ideal swimming conditions the south east, east and north coasts face the Atlantic and the rugged coastline is often pummelled by waves and strong unpredictable undercurrents are known to exist. Additionally, many of Cameron's swims have been in cold water but Cameron is confident that he will adjust easily to the warmer waters as he says "its much easier to move from cold to warm!". During his last few days on the island Cameron completed two 14 hour training swims with less than 12 hours between the end of one and the start of the second. After each one he emerged from the water smiling and looking remarkably well! He enjoyed his swimming in Barbados commenting that many of his swims are in dark, cold water but he felt as if he were in an aquarium in the warmer Barbados waters, sighting many turtles, tropical fish and beautiful corals during his swims.
What must be perplexing to many in the swim world is that Cameron was never a swimmer growing up. In 2011, after founding a charity known as the Ubunye Challenge, which raises money through endurance adventures, he decided he would learn to swim and make an attempt to swim the English Channel. He completed the 35K Channel Swim on July 5, 2012. Earlier in 2012 he had completed a 1500 km cycle in 7 days, a second cycling adventure for him as he already had a 6500 km solo bicycle journey (2009) under his belt: from Beijing to the southernmost tip of India.
Another truly outstanding feat was accomplished in 2014, when he completed his epic Indian Ocean rowing expedition, as part of a team of seven who rowed from Geraldton, Australia to the Seychelles. Cameron had been a passionate flat-water rower at high school and university and represented South Africa at the World U23 Rowing Championships (2003) and World Student Games (2004). During the Indian Ocean crossing the team survived 50-foot waves during the tail end of a hurricane, almost being run over by an oil tanker, a collision with a blue whale and interaction with West African pirates, amongst other adventures during their 57 day, 6270 km journey.
His endeavours continued through 2015-2018 with the ongoing pursuit of the Oceans 7 which consists of seven long-distance open-water swims, and is considered the marathon swimming equivalent of the Seven Summits mountaineering challenge. It includes the North Channel, the Cook Strait, the Molokai Channel, the English Channel, the Catalina Channel, the Tsugaru Strait and the Strait of Gibraltar. Creator, Steve Munatones: considers the Ocean 7 the “highest and most difficult echelon of marathon swimming”. Only ten swimmers have completed this challenge since it was first proposed in 2008.
Friends describe Cameron Bellamy as a "genuinely nice guy" and work colleague Steve Walker says "Cam's swimming and business accomplishments pale in comparison to what he has been doing in South Africa" through his charity work. Says Kevin Jennings, Board Chair of the Ubunye Challenge: “Cam is the "real deal": a person genuinely committed to trying to help those less fortunate than himself. Thanks to his vision and determination, Ubunye has grown to a point where hundreds of children in the Eastern Cape are getting early childhood education they would have stood no chance of getting if not for Ubunye. It is highly unusual for a young person to have already had such an impact on so many lives.”
Those who recently met this "real life super hero" in Barbados can attest to his friendly and modest nature and the small but passionate open water swimming community is already buzzing with excitement about Cameron's visit and plans to swim around the island.
Cameron Bellamy's first six Ocean 7 crossings:
The Cook Strait
Description: A swim between the South andNorth Islands of New Zealand, known for its cold water and volatile weather. 15% of attempts encounter sharks. Date: 11 March 2018 Distance: 32km Duration:12 hours 43 minutes
The Molokai Channel
Description: A swim between the islands of Molokai and Oahu in Hawaii. Known for its big seas, long distance, and myriad species of poisonous jelly fish. Date: 15 February 2017 Length: 46 km Duration:17 hours 6 minutes
The North Channel
Description: A swim between Northern Ireland and Scotland. Known for being the hardest of the Oceans 7 swims.
It is frigidly cold, with temperatures of 10 –12 degrees C. Most attempts encounter swarms of deadly jellyfish.
Date: 14 July 2016 Length: 35km Duration: 12 hours 13 minutes
The Catalina Channel
Description: A swim between Catalina Island and Los Angeles, known for its strong currents and marine life.
Date: 7 November 2015 Length: 35km Duration: 11 hours 52 minutes
The Strait of Gibraltar
Description: An iconic swim between Europe (Tarifa, Spain) and Africa (somewhere on the Moroccan coast)
Date: 8 April 2015 Length: 20km Duration: 4 hours 1minute
The English Channel
Description: Between England and France. The swim is known for its cold water and variable conditions.
Date: 5 July 2012 Length: 35km Duration: 16 hours 29 minutes
Much of the information contained in this article including times and distances swam on channel crossings was received from Cameron Bellamy, his team and work colleagues. For more information about the The Ubunye Challenge visit their Website: www.ubunyechallenge.com . Read more about Cameron's epic Indian ocean crossing here: https://www.nightjartravel.com/magazine/cameron-bellamy-and-his-magnificent-indian-ocean-crossing