The seemingly impossible feat of swimming all the way around the island of Barbados by the South African will be remembered forever by all who witnessed the accomplishment. His is a highly unique and unbelievable story dating back to his first "long swim" across the English Channel in 2012. Swimming this channel, after only one year of swimming, should perhaps have been an indicator of the great moments that would follow in his open water swimming life. In June 2018 Bellamy completed the challenging Oceans Seven swims and joined an elite group of only 11 swimmers to have completed the seven toughest channels. Even before completing the Oceans Seven he already had his sights set on swimming around Barbados and had begun training in earnest.
On September 7, 2018, Bellamy set out on his first attempt to swim around Barbados. He spent 27 hours in the water and swam 66K, from Pebbles Beach on the south west coast to Animal Flower Cave on the north coast via the Atlantic facing East coast. After 24 hours in the water, a shift in the winds and adverse currents off River Bay caused conditions that were exceedingly difficult. He dug deep for another three hours and made it past River Bay to the Cave where he aborted the swim, realising that he still had the "distance of the English Channel" to complete the circumnavigation. Exhausted and with sore shoulders and suffering with a highly painful "salt mouth" he returned to his hotel, admitting that the swim - around the jagged coastline, battling tough conditions on the south east and north coasts including back wash from the cliffs - was more difficult than he expected.
He had put up a great fight and surpassed previous attempts by about 40K. Local swimmers and the community in general were in awe of his attempt even though he hadn't reached the finish line he had set for himself. However, his tenacious nature was apparent when about 24 hours after the first attempt he announced he would try again. "I am the fittest I have ever been and now I know what I have to do to make it all the way around". He travelled to Australia, intensified his training and applied a more specific and scientific approach to his training regimen in the waters off the Gold Coast. He swam up to nine hours a day and focused on maintaining a target heart rate among other goals.
The support crew consisting of about 30 core volunteers acting as kayakers, feeders, observers and boat captains, along with paramedics were assembled. An entourage of eight boats was utilised at different times over "four legs" of the swim. The conditions were not as favourable as the September 2018 attempt and even as he started the swim, on Sunday November 11, a squall passed over the south of the island bringing heavy rainfall, wind and choppy seas.
Well, needless to say, Cameron Bellamy, a man who exemplifies the very definition of perseverance, fought through wind and bumpy water on the south, literally ploughed through huge waves in the Kittridge Point/Ragged Point areas of the south-east and continued up the Atlantic facing East coast. When he reached his "nemesis" from the first attempt - the North Coast - conditions were extremely challenging - large swells caused him to detour out to sea to avoid being washed up on the rocky cliffs of the North. Totally focused and maintaining a similar stroke rate throughout he defeated the unforgiving North coast and entered calmer waters on the north west coast of the island. Flagging a bit at this point he had to draw on his steely resolve and the positive energy of his highly supportive crew to keep moving along the west coast. In forty plus hours this was the only point where he said, "I had a few negative thoughts". Throughout the duration of the swim, he never faltered, taking the time to give a thumbs up and thank-you to volunteers as shifts changed and new support crew took over (pictured below).
This highly talented, totally dedicated, endurance athlete uses his incredible abilities to raise funds for a children's charity - The Ubunye Challenge. Cameron Bellamy's next endurance adventures? Swimming from Cuba to Florida and rowing the Drake Passage between Chile and Antarctica!
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