Triathlon Training Spotlight on South Africa with Susie Cheetham

Team Orca triathlete Susie Cheetham lets us in on where she likes to head when her hometown's getting too cold to train and gives us a heads up on important things like best places to swim, get a coffee, or treat yourself after a long day of training.


Location: South Africa, Western Cape

Ever wondered where the pro's like to head to train when the weather's cold in their home town? Wonder no longer! In these triathlon travel blogs athletes from Team Orca will let you in on where they like to head and why as well as everything you need to know for the best places to train and swim there...and of course the best spot to get a coffee or head to treat yourself after a long day of training. Ever wondered what South Africa would be like for a training vacation? British triathlete Susie Cheetham gives us some insight into training in the Western Cape of South Africa!

Why do you head here?

So many reasons! Firstly and most importantly it’s such a beautiful country.  My husband’s family live in Cape Town and Hermanus; it’s a trip that ticks a lot of boxes.  We visit friends and family, train when the UK winter weather is at its worst and it also usually coincides with the Ironman 70.3 South Africa which I usually race.

What time of year is best to be here and why?

If you’re visiting the Western Cape which in my (biased) opinion is the most beautiful part you’re probably best going around March/ April. The weather is usually quite settled, it’s not too windy but it’s a lovely warm temperature but not too hot to train.

Where do you recommend to swim?  

There’s so many places to swim in South Africa as most of the schools have pools (often 50m) along with the public pools you’ve got quite a lot of options and they don’t tend to have such restrictive lane swimming times as they do in the UK. 

 In Cape Town there is a lovely outdoor 50m pool which is right on the beach so is almost like an infinity pool. My parents in law live in Hermanus where there is an outdoor 50m pool also on the beach in a place called Onrus. (Susie is featured at this pool in the main image on this article) It’s a small village so you just head to the beach and the pool is right on the beach. It’s managed by a guy called Worsie who will do anything to help you while charging about 7p for a swim!

If you want to do a bit of open water swimming, the sea is beautiful, but I tend to swim in dams.  My favourite in Cape Town is Silvermine Dam on the top of Table Mountain. If I’m down in Hermanus I swim in another dam that you can only get to by walking.  It’s in the Fernkloof nature reserve and cn be found on the Best Places to Swim site under ‘Fernkloof Nature Reserve’.

Where do you stay when you’re there? Why would you recommend this place?

 My brother-in-law in Cape Town and my parents-in-law in Hermanus.  I would recommend them both but I’m not sure they are open to any more visitors! 

 Where do you head for tri-related help while there? Any good tri/bike shops to recommend?

 Stellenbosh is a great place to base yourself it’s beautiful, has mountains and isn’t far from Cape Town.  It has a good bike shop called BMT that I’ve used a few times.

 In Hermanus I use Precision Cycles in the main high street.  They’ve sorted me out a few times when I’ve thought my training day was over! 

Where can someone get the best coffee here?

Again if you’re in Stellenbosh there is a really European feel to it.  There is no end of coffee places, it would be hard to recommend just one!  The same goes for Cape Town.  In Hermanus I would recommend Burgundy it has great coffee, amazing food and an incredible view.

 How easy is it to get around here? Would someone need their own car or public transportation is good?

 You definitely need a car to see the best of South Africa.  The public transport isn’t great and to get between towns you really need your own wheels!

Where’s your favourite spot to head to treat yourself after a long day of training?

My in laws live Hermanus in front of the mountains but about 500m from the most beautiful beaches.  I head down to watch the sea, I could honestly watch the waves pass for hours.  It’s also one of the best spots for whale watching so if you’re lucky you may see one as they come really close to shore.

Any other tips to add if someone was thinking of heading to this location for some training time?

Make sure you allow yourself a day to visit the vineyards in Stellenbosh/ Franshoek/ Hemel En Aarde valley.  Even if you’re not that into wine the vineyards are so beautiful to take a stroll around, you can consider it active recovery.

Also make sure you ride from Cape Town down to and around the Cape Peninsula.  Most tourists drive it, but as with most stunning routes it’s better to ride it!




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