Channel Hoppers challenged in Backstairs Passage swim to Kangaroo Island

SUCCESS: Channel Hoppers SA's Andrew Barber (far right) with Victorians Anton, Travis, Stuart and Michael who this month swam the Backstairs Passage. Photos: Supplied
SUCCESS: Channel Hoppers SA's Andrew Barber (far right) with Victorians Anton, Travis, Stuart and Michael who this month swam the Backstairs Passage. Photos: Supplied

A group of swimmers successfully crossed the notoriously treacherous Backstairs Passage stretch of water in a bid to have fun and fuel their swimming passions while raising brain-cancer awareness.

On April 7 a team of five - four Victorians and South Australia's Andrew Barber - relayed from Cape Jervis to Cuttlefish Bay, Kangaroo Island, in four hours and 44 minutes.

The swim from Cape Jervis on the mainland to Cuttlefish Bay on Kangaroo Island was completed in this shark cage.

The swim from Cape Jervis on the mainland to Cuttlefish Bay on Kangaroo Island was completed in this shark cage.

Barber said the swim was completed in a shark cage, yet otherwise followed the standard rules of English Channel crossings; swimmers must wear bathers and one swimming cap and a set of goggles only.

"Each swimmer completes one hour before exchanging with the next swimmer," he said.

Yet the relay wasn't enough for Barber, who that same day, completed a solo swim of the stretch in under seven hours.

In preparation, the team trained at Black Rock in Victoria, Brighton and Port Noarlunga.

"We'd really like to see more successful crossings in the future and are hopeful that it will bring more people to the Island," Mr Barber said.

The team also thanked skipper Gary Lloyd of Fleurieu Fishing Charters.

"Gary has now towed out the shark cage for three successful crossings ... his knowledge of the waters made for a fantastic pair of swims and set us up for success."

Kangaroo Island resident Shane Sanigar, who works at the Penneshaw IGA, meanwhile continues to work toward his solo swim.

The Victorian team was in contact with him prior to its swim this month, after they heard about his earlier attempts.

His first attempt, made without a shark cage, was cut short just short of Penneshaw after he and his swimming partner were buzzed by a shark.

His second attempt with a shark cage was foiled first by the bushfires and then COVID-19.

He was then all set to go on this year's February dodge tide but was unable to secure the services of a support boat.

Shane said he is continuing to train with an eye to swimming next February and has already starting looking for a support boat, including possibly Gary Lloyd of Fleurieu Fishing Charters.

He met with Andrew Barber from the team after the successful swim and they had a discussion about his next attempt.

This story Channel Hoppers complete Backstairs Passage swim first appeared on The Islander.

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