SA man’s swim around Barbados is a world first
Businessman has an insatiable hunger for unusual exertion, and a charitable soul to match
An SA businessman has become the first person to swim around the island of Barbados in what is believed to be the fourth-longest unassisted swim to date.
Cameron Bellamy managed only two-thirds of the swim the first time he tried it in September, but after a bit more preparation he crossed the finishing line last month, much to the delight of his friends and family who are accustomed to him tackling daring outdoor challenges.
The San Francisco-based entrepreneur is also a sportsman who uses his adventurous streak to raise money for charity, with proceeds from his latest swim helping early childhood development initiatives in the Eastern Cape.
Bellamy, 36, said the idea for the swim came about while visiting a friend in Barbados. “I asked him about swimming around Barbados and he told me three people had tried but never managed it. That sparked my interest.”
Bellamy is no stranger to acts of unusual exertion. His previous adventures include cycling the UK top to bottom, rowing across the Indian Ocean and swimming the English Channel.
He said his taste for outdoor adventure started during his childhood years in Cape Town: “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.”
As an adult he travelled widely and settled briefly in Australia and China before moving on to the US. He took with him a serious exercise habit: “It’s 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. 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.”
His 96km Barbados swim took almost 41 hours and stretched from Sunday November 11 to 4.06am on November 13. His departure coincided with the Barbados Open Water Festival, whose organisers hailed the swim as the fourth-longest non-stop, unassisted swims yet documented.
Bellamy’s mother Janita Bellamy said her son revealed his adventurous streak at an early age: “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.
“I am immensely proud of him and just love getting the call to come over wherever he is in the world to support him. It’s tough for a mother, though, on many occasions trying to push one’s son to the goalpost and at the same time see him in dire agony with cramps, exhaustion and the most incredibly painful swollen joints like one can’t imagine.”