Shane Sanigar will swim from Cape Jervis to Penneshaw on Kangaroo Island.
Shane Sanigar will swim from Cape Jervis to Penneshaw on Kangaroo Island.

No shark cage, no wetsuit: KI man to swim Backstairs Passage

THE Backstairs Passage is one of the most notorious stretches of water in the state, plagued by strong tides and big swells and home to more than a few toothy apex predators.

The straight that separates Kangaroo Island from the mainland has claimed dozens of ships and many lives, and on Sunday Shane Sanigar will attempt to swim across it.

The 36-year-old Brit, who runs a B&B on the island with his wife and two young children, is no stranger to distance swimming, having crossed the English Channel in 2013.

But he admits that his South Australian odyssey poses its own unique challenges - mainly the men in grey suits.

"I'll be towing an electronic shark shield behind me, attached to a buoy," Sanigar said.

"In long distance swimming you don't use your legs that much - they're big muscles that sap your energy - so towing a shark shield shouldn't be a problem."

Sanigar, who has chosen a dodge tide day to reduce the amount of current he'll have to battle, says he hopes to complete the 17.4km swim from Cape Jervis to Penneshaw in seven to nine hours.

"We'll assess the conditions from 5am and speak with the authorities to make sure everything's safe," he said.

"If we're good then we'll come over in the boat from the island and hopefully leave Cape Jervis at 7am."

Sanigar won't wear a wetsuit on the swim because of chafing and restriction issues, and instead will lather himself in a mix of Vaseline and Bepanthen nappy rash cream.

"I've never liked wearing a wetsuit," he said.

"You just don't feel free and I can swim about 15 per cent faster without one. But the salt will dry you out so you have to grease up. If you haven't had a shave you can wear a hole in your shoulder just from brushing across your face thousands of times."

Sanigar, who drank around nine litres of water on his Channel swim, thinks he'll go through about five litres on his crossing to KI.

"People think you don't sweat in the water, but you definitely do," he said. "You're using every muscle."


Shane Sanigar hopes to finish the 17.4km swim in seven to nine hours.
Shane Sanigar hopes to finish the 17.4km swim in seven to nine hours.


Seventeen-year-old Jacob Zeman will leave the support boat and swim in front to keep Sanigar's pace up whenever needed on the marathon trip.

Sanigar hopes his swim will raise at least $4000 for the Australian Cancer Research Foundation.

"A lady I work with is battling cancer, and another has just found out her husband has cancer," he said.

And what will be going through Sanigar's mind as he crosses the 73m-deep stretch of water? "Well my son Zac is fascinated by (giant extinct shark) megalodons at the moment, so he's convinced I'm going to come across one of those," he said, laughing. "But I'll just be concentrating on reaching the other side."

The Passage has been swum before, by Andrew Martin in 1995 and David Fallon in 2005.

To donate to Shane's fundraising efforts go to his Grassrootz page.