Active Blu - Open Water Venue.

Active Blu - Open Water Venue.

Monday, 8 April 2013

Reflections on  Rottnest 20km Channel Swim 2013.

Rotto Solo 2013
At the end of Feb 2013 myself and hundreds of competitors swam the 20km Rottnest Channel , in some of the most shark infested waters in the world. There were 200 other solo swimmers that completed the event that day as well as teams and duo swimmers. I have to firstly congratulate and thank all those who took part in the event as well as all the amazing support crews and organisers

I had been lucky enough to Coach the Swim Smooth Squads out in Perth and witness the courage, dedication and commitment it took to take part in such an event. People were swimming the event for many reasons and I felt privileged to be part of the team training them up for such a big challenge. 

As time drew near and all the training was finishing, we all hoped for good weather, this was the only element we could not plan for, so we prepared for the worst and crossed our fingers.
Rotto Event briefing
For months Perth had experienced a high weather pressure, some saying it had been the hottest summer on record, there were weeks on end were we experienced clear blue skies and extreme heat.

Come the week of the event however, the weather changed for the worsted, strong winds and storms hit the West Coast of Australia. Keeping swimmers and crews wondering if the event may be cancelled.

Start Line - Wave One
After so many months of training and racing preparing for this event everyone wanted the challenge to go ahead. With wild winds and seas the night before, we waited for the mornings conformation.

Event day: It was going to go ahead but the forecast was for big seas. 3 to 4.5 meter swells.

All the competitors stood on the start line in the dark, with only their thoughts and hopes to contemplate, the most prominent sound coming from the crashing waves in front of them. Out to sea all that could be seen where hundreds of lights, coming from the safety boats and crews waiting to guide us across the expanse of water.

As the event started the nerves settled and we all headed into the darkness, it was time to find our own pace and rhythm in the stormy seas. 10km passed fairly quickly for me, however sea sickness was preventing me eating or drinking much. I knew if I continued not to fuel well I would not make it to the end. My crew gave me a sickness tablet at 14km and things seemed to settle, this was around the same point my left shoulder started to seize up, with shooting pains down my left arm I wondered if I could continue.

I dug deep, as I knew one reason for my shoulder pain, as well as an old injury, was due to the weather conditions and large waves, only enabling me to breathe to my right side. After 14km of this I was in desperate need to breathe to my left side. I decided this was my only option if I wanted to complete the challenge, however this meant drinking many mouthfuls of sea water. Starting to use my left side to breathe meant the pain started to decrease and it was at this point I knew I would make it to the end.
14 km in and sea starts to calm.
The last 4 Km was fantastic, I had refueled well and started to really find my rhythm, although I was sore, the water calmed enough to pick up my pace, enjoy the ocean and the beautiful day it turned out to be.

As I entered the finishing 800m I felt strong and found myself wanting to continue swimming, rather than finish, but it had been an amazing event full of great learning and fun and I felt proud to be part of it. 

I crossed the line in 6 hours 21 mins - To the welcome of my support crew. I have to thank these guys and although the event was amazing, my fondest memories of the event was my Crew and just how supportive and motivating they were. Thank you all.

Challenge Complete! 
People have asked me since, what my biggest challenge was: I would have to say, that it would have to be training for the event - due to finding out I was highly allergic to jelly fish: having been hospitalised after racing in the ocean back in Oct 2012. This meant all my training had to be done in my stinger suit whilst carrying an epi pen with me at all times and finding alternative locations to train from, sometimes travelling for hours to find water with no Stingers. So thank you to all those people who endeavored to find new location for me to train from.

I know I created amusement for everyone else....I mean seriously I am wearing a big stocking!!

 Well done to all that took part and supported the event. It is a massive achievement and a lot of organising involved - I am may be back next year to race!

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