Abriella Bredell’s record swim – A boost for Red Cross War Memorial Children’s Hospital

Abriella Bredel
Photo credit: Susanne Joubert/Marcos Cruz

Abriella Bredell’s dream was to set the world record for the youngest person to swim the Robben Island Channel in order to raise funds for her favourite charity, the Red Cross War Memorial Children’s Hospital – a challenge she took upon herself.

The Robben Island Swim (between Robben Island and Blouberg mainland) is considered the “Everest” of every open water swimmer in South Africa and offers an unparalleled challenge to open water swimmers in South Africa and around the world.
It combines the beauty and challenge of Robben Island and Table Mountain, both world-renowned sites.

The 11-year-old girl from Jeffreys Bay, learner at the Victory Christian School loves swimming. Abriella is very competitive, enjoys swimming in races, improving her times, like learning new things, keeping fit and taking care of her body. “Swimming does all of the above for me,” says Abriella.

She has been training at Brenton’s Swim School and Liquid Lines in St. Francis Bay since she was only two years old. Her training schedule includes open water swimming at Marina Martinique in Jeffreys Bay, 6 times a week. Her ultimate goal in swimming was to practise hard and to swim the Robben Island Channel.

Her father, Pierre Bredell said the family travelled to Cape Town twice every month for the past two years so Abriella could train. She trained during the coldest times in winter and took part in the Cold Water Classic where she swam three miles in 13 degrees Celsius during the Jeffreys Bay Winterfestival. In October she also participated in the 3 Anchor Bay swim where she swam 5km in 12 degrees Celsius.

The team assisting Abriella was on standby from 29 December 2018, waiting for the right conditions to attempt one of the most significant swims in the world of open water swimming. On 12 January 2018 Abriella met with her swim coach and mentor Brenton and a decision was made to attempt the swim.

The swimmers left Robben Island around 8h00 in near perfect conditions for a crossing, with the water temperature remaining between 14-15 degrees Celsius, light winds, no major currents and sunny skies. They quickly got into a rhythm and only stopped to hydrate. Abriella completed the swim in three hours and eight minutes and became the youngest person ever to cross the notorious 7.6km channel from Robben Island to Big Bay in Blouberg. “It was a bit cold at the Island, but the water warmed up as we swam and I really enjoyed the swim,” Abriella said.

The Robben Island crossing is regarded as one of the toughest open water swims in the world. Water temperatures of sub 15 degrees Celsius, apex predators, swimming through a busy shipping lane, big swells and wind whipped seas were some of the many challenges Abriella had to to face during her swim.

“She is very young and I commend her for her bravery. This was something that she purposed in her heart. Although part of her goal was to set a new world record as the world’s youngest person to participate in this type of initiative, she did it for the children and only she herself grasps that more than anything,” said Pierre Bredell.

Abriella returned to school and will take some time out from training, whilst focusing on other school sports like netball and athletics, while contemplating her next big challenge.

An amount of R156 032.56 has already been raise by Abriella Bredell on www.backabuddy.co.za with a fundraising target of R2 million in aid of the Red Cross War Memorial Children’s Hospital.

Red Cross War Memorial Children’s Hospital – A place of Hope and Healing

The idea of a children’s hospital in Cape Town as a living memorial took hold of South African servicemen who were awaiting demobilization in Italy. It captured their imagination so strongly that many of the servicemen gave two days of their pay towards the ideal, and these funds were held in a trust by the South African Red Cross Society who began to champion its establishment. In May 1945, it was suggested that a children’s hospital be built as a Red Cross War Memorial – to honour the service of all South Africans who contributed to the Allied victory. The Hospital officially opened its doors in June 1956.

From these relatively humble origins the Hospital has gone on to establish an international reputation for excellence in pediatric healthcare, offering a comprehensive range of specialist services to children from South Africa and across the entire continent.

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