Despite saying I wasn’t going to commit to the English Channel until I’d completed Rottnest, boyish enthusiasm got the better of me and by the time I swam I’d booked a pilot and committed the next 18 months of my life to this crazy pursuit; now all I had to do was prove I could swim 20 km!
I’d been fortunate enough to have my pilot and crew locked in for quite a few months; Jen and my mate Scottie (who I know through work and lives in Perth) would share kayaking and support and Scottie had kindly arranged a boat (his friend Paul) and found a kayak for the trip (what a saint!). I was one of 15 Vladswimmers at Rottnest, 13 soloists and a duo: testament to the coaching skills of Vlad and Charm and the high calibre of their team.
The race was so exciting, following 2 days of nervous anticipation in Cottesloe, during which time the island seemed to drift closer and further on the horizon, I thought the whole thing was written off on Friday evening when it got incredibly gusty and rained sideways for several hours, However, the next morning was great conditions, a bit blowy, a bit choppy, but we’d swum in worse.
At the start line Iearnt two important lessons: take gloves (to apply copious vaseline and zinc without getting it all over your hands, goggles and companion) and don’t apply copious vaseline adn zinc while standing on sand, unless you want gritty lube (somehow defeating the purpose!)
Once I got over the initial excitement and urge to go out too fast that (I think) most people get whether they are racing 1 km or 20, I found my pace and swam a race I am truly proud of! 6h 51m, and kept my pace throughout at a steady 64 strokes a minute. Kept my feeds to less than a minute (pretty good for someone who had developed a reputation for taking picnics not feed stops). The elation on finishing was indescribable as was being high fived by random strangers on Rotto for having completed a solo swim. I had booked my pilot for 2014 before we left the island and the need to do another marathon swim was locked in!
Apart from breaking my toe through kicking a rock when walking on the beach after the swim I was relatively unscathed from the experience… oh, apart from the fact I couldn’t lift my arms above my head the next day! Need to address my feeding regimen as I was proper bloated after the race; could have been too much fluid, could have been too much carbohydrate, but at least I wasn’t sick, unlike many
So many thanks and so much love to my crew: to Jennie who has embraced supporting my swims, kayaked 15km on the day and was a constant source of encouragement and feedback; to Scottie and Paul who were just diamonds and made me feel comfortable, safe and like a hero throughout!
Now just 16 months of training to go!