2017 Northern Combine Pop Stewart Handicap

It was a humbling experience at the Pop Stewart Handicap today, however I did manage to get some gravel & grovel pics on my reverse loop of shame.

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The race at Balliang is 4 laps of 25k circuit with one of the highlights being the 3k gravel section.

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The Granite Road climb is also very picturesque, however when you are in suffer mode you do not really get the chance to take it in.

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It is also that point where the cohesiveness of the group is put to the test and where little gaps become bigger and the not so strong are left to fend for themselves. I failed the test on lap 2.

This years race was controversial indeed. An incident which caused the scratch bunch to come down, a rider in hospital with a broken collar bone, the defending Pop Stewart Champion puncturing and the person first across the line being disqualified.

Photo Credit: Brunswick Cycling Club

Ultimately the win was awarded to Geelong Cycling Club rider Trent Clifford who was in the 5 minute chopping block group and was presented the covenant trophy by club legends John Morison, Richard McCorkell and Jeff McClean.

Place Rider Club Group
1st Trent Clifford Geelong 5 Min
2nd Stefen Imburger Carnegie Caulfield Scratch
3rd Scott Brown Sunbury 18 Min
4th Neale Sturt Carnegie Caulfield 18 Min
5th Lachlan Grose St Kilda 18 Min
6th Anthony Somers Brunswick 22 Min
7th Ashley Crowther Geelong 30 Min
8th Rafael Unger St Kilda 22 Min
9th David Rooke Brunswick 22 Min
10th Mick Skerritt Italo Australia 18 Min
Fastest Steven Robb Carnegie Caulfield Scratch
1st Female Sarah Gigante Brunswick 18 Min

Thanks to the Brunswick Cycling Club and the host of volunteers for putting on such a good race.

See also:

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2017 Pirates v Icebergers

The annual show down between the Peninsula Pirates and the Brighton and Mt Martha Icebergers is nice way to close out the swim for the season. It is the 9th running of this esteemed event, my first and the score sheet to date was 4 all..

It is so famous, it even got a mention in the local new paper.

Mills Beach, Mornington provided an ideal setting for the event with crystal clear waters & flat as a tack.

It was a non-wetsuit swim.. so thankfully the water was still relatively warm.

It was a lovely swim.. with the pirates taking the overall honours even though it was Iceberger Dan Wallace who won bragging rights with being the first out of the water.

Post race catering of Bacon and Egg rolls made everyone a winner. Well done to all swimmers.. thank you to the Pirates for organising.

Swimming from Torquay to Anglesea

Story by Lester Oldham

Two “locals” take the sea road to Roadknight…. via Torquay.

20 kilometer swim by Ian Neville and Michael Sheppard.

Marco Polo, James Cook, Sir Edmond Hillary, Roger Bannister and, more locally, Burke and Wills, Lassiter even a former Governor of the State, Sir John Landy… all identities with something in common… crossing continents, discovering mysterious new lands, climbing mountains, discovering fabulous reefs of gold or just trying to be the first to break the 4 minute mile… Each set out on a task to achieve something not previously recorded as having been successfully done. Some famously achieved, some just missed out while others disappeared and became the stuff of legends.

The desire to be the first, the ground breaker is something that sits within many of us.

Admittedly on a dramatically smaller scale. yet the ultimate aim overlaps in principle.
Two swim friends who were keen to pursue something not previously achieved, a quite different challenge for them and those supporting them. They set off from Torquay beach last Sunday and swam non stop to Point Roadknight in mild conditions. 20 kilometres to cover in the Open Sea around some of the State’s most rugged coast.

7.45 am Sunday morning last Michael and Ian are about to start their journey in near perfect conditions at “Fishoes” beach Torquay. In the background are the support crew on Kayaks and the support boat.

Early days in the swim, 20% done maybe 15 Kms to go, the boys cruise past the Jan Juc cliffs en route towards Bells and Pt Addis

Ian, aged 42 is a Geelong based Physical Education teacher specialising in Outdoor Education at secondary school level (who has been a State ranking sportsman of considerable note in various fields, and really only commenced his competitive involvement in Open Water Swimming in 2012) and Mike, just pushing his 60th birthday, an architect (who has a very strong and long history in swimming both locally, and in competitive seniors swimming and in water polo competitions in Melbourne as well as in Open Water Swimming), had been tossing around thoughts of longer swims. Something challenging, something different.

In fact those conversations have ranged around some possible big target swims like Rottnest or even “The Chanel” — but both are realists and recognize that, regardless of sporting excellence achieved elsewhere, long distance swimming is a unique challenge and requires careful and gradually constructed building blocks.

Locally at Anglesea, those in the know, talk of a history of longer solo swims in the area being undertaken by new MCC CEO Stuart Fox. Some say 10 to 15 kilometer was achieved by Stuart. Maybe the inspiration started there… then again these two men are also self starters.

The obvious question for Ian and Michael: “Why choose to attack such a long swim, over deep water, past rugged unpopulated cliffs, inaccessible by road for the most part, swimming wide of craggy reefs that induce world famous surf, past Towering Pt Addis, famous Bells, Jan Juc the aptly named Pt Danger.. surely there are calmer, safer swims”?

Maybe the answer might be “because it is there to be done and no one else has done it”… though Ian admits that Michael was probably the driving force this time. It seems that Michael just kept raising the possibility of this swim… and it has now happened!

Open Water Swimming differs from many sports simply because it is YOU against the SEA… this sport involves no special footwear, not bats, hockey sticks, high jump bars, clubs, balls, and no hills to run up, nor high tech bikes or kayaks to master.

Neither Ian nor Mike wore wetsuits so they had simply their techniques, their goggles, their fitness and their own individual determination. This 20 kilometer swim was to them both an individual challenge unlike any other either had previously attempted and a likely stepping stone to the next big swim they decide upon.

The swim

Ian: We always wanted to start slow (not something I’m good at) and build as we went. The first 10km was quite easy and relaxed. Just what we wanted. The second 10km was going to be the test. It got a little choppy around Point Addis, but eventually settled again once around the point.

The niggles started to settle in, but this was to be expected by now. Otherwise I felt great for the rest of the swim and was tempted to continue on to Aireys lighthouse, hahaha. There were no triangular fins of any sort. A few reefs to negotiate and waves around Point Danger, but otherwise smooth sailing.

Haha, did I say sailing. We did finish in amongst a sailing regatta coming into Point Roadknight which added some colour.

The all important support crew.

There was a motor boat and two kayaks and one a double kayak… a veritable flotilla!

In the boat:

  • Stewart Humpheries – boat pilot
  • Matt Rawson – boat owner
  • Barb Sheppard – Michael’s coach, personal masseur and 24 hours per day (on call) trainer and spouse!
  • Michael Beck renowned recent Rottnest Podium claimant (who is still wearing the medal 24/7) and regular OWS who provided expert advice and encouragement

Single Kayaks

  • Sam Sheppard
    another member of the famous seafaring Sheppards, who resisted the temptation to join us in the water and successfully shepherded away any “Noahs” (Sam can swim a bit himself as a succession of Lorne Pier 2 Pub victories and long distance National level excellence attests as evidence. Moreover Sam was the instigator of the whole Sheppard family (all 6) “doing Lorne “this year.)
  • Phil Avery
    Ex colleague and great friend of Ian and Torquay local. Has paddled for Ian’s swims before?
    Ian: I knew he would be keen, capable and in for the ride. I love having him there. He knows me well. We… understand each other. This was important for me as a swimmer as I wanted/needed that kind of support. That is if something is going wrong, Phil will know what I would want and how to fix it. I can trust his judgement.

Double kayak

  • Louis Gross
    Ian: Another outdoor leader who has an extensive sea kayaking background. Understands the sea and logistics of putting together such adventures. Gains and provides valuable insight into the risks and weather involved. Important to have a guy like this around.
  • Jacqui Nolen
    Ian: awesome chick who understands swimming and the demands required. Has an upbeat personality keeping things positive and Louis under control. She was great to have supporting.

Some of the support crew, from left, Louis Gross, Jacqui Nolen, Ian, Barb Sheppard, Mike and Phil Avery. Lou, Jacqui and Phil were Kayak support. A fourth kayaker, Sam Sheppard missed this pic (and it is quite likely that boat support member, Mike Beck, was busy studying his 2017 Rottnest medal at the time…or he may have been holding the camera… it is not clear).

A few final questions for Ian

Lester: How long did it take?
Ian: 6 hours 12 minutes and we swam together all of the way. That was and always should be an essential element of any similar swim in my opinion.
Lester: Finally… for a challenge such as this, were any special “permissions” required and sought?
Ian: Definitely. I sought permission from the ultimate authority, my lovely wife.
It was given so quickly that her unquestioning speed was something that occupied my mind during the 6 hour journey… didn’t she realize that there are potential predators out there?

We made it… “Well done mate”, on the beach at Anglesea. Ian (left) and Michael (right) share a special moment.

The bigger picture

Could this be the start of something?

As the song goes…”From little things, big things grow”, and that certainly proved to be the case in 1989 when Robbie Robertson challenged fellow architect Ted Bailleau to a race over the stretch of Port Phillip Bay between the Sorrento Pier (where the ferry now berths) and Portsea Pier (right next to the famous Portsea Pub). The benefits to befall the winner?? The loser had to shout him a bottle of Dom Perignon Champagne!

In the years subsequent that initial swim (now well known as “the Pier to Perignon” swim) the numbers are now capped at 800 and sell out on the day. Check out Lester’s interview with Robbie Robertson for more details of The Pier to Pérignon Swim.

Now the question that arises here is whether the Torquay – Anglesea event might develop “legs” along similar lines…. and what would its marketing name be? Some imaginative locals have already proffered their thoughts and they include.

  • The GOR Classic (ie Great Ocean Road)
  • The Shark Bait Classic
  • The Bells Beach ByPass

The real attraction would be in the commercial benefits to be shared in both places, as supporters would gather at both the start and the end and one can envisage that (as happened here with Michael and Ian), planning and scheduling might involve more than one weekend..

It must be said however that while the Pier to Perignon is a 4.5 kilometre, tide assisted, protected bay event, the challenge undertaken by Michael and Ian was equal to far more than 5 times the distance and is an event suited only to experienced and hardened distance OWS types. So the question is out there… will others take up the baton and can this evolve into an annual event? Time will tell.

Meanwhile history can never deny that Ian Neville and Michael Sheppard are the first two to have been there and done that!

Postscript

Is it fair to ask; what it is about Architects and their training that they are constantly pushing boundaries (Robbie Robertson, Ted Bailleau and Mike Sheppard all pursued that career) and Ian Neville insisted that it was Michael who was the more enthusiastic about this swim.

2017 Mt Martha Australia Day Swim

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The Australia Day Swim down at Mt Martha is probably the stand out swim on the race calendar. It is a great beach, beautiful water and the atmosphere is always so friendly and family orientated.

Crazy 5k Swim

This year it will my 9th appearance since 2007 and the 5th time fronting up for the Crazy 5km. I have been out of the pool for almost 2 weeks now as a result of flesh wound incurred from a fall off my bike on my regular commute home. While nothing was broken.. I did lose a bit of skin and while the wound is open, the professionals didn’t want risking it getting infected.

My last swim was at Torquay with was a 2.5k event, however I missed out on the RipView and last weeks Sorrento swim which were 3.98 and 4k respectively. The plan was always to use these swims as part of the build up to for swimming this 5k event, so now I was well and truly on the back foot.

There were 149 starters in the Crazy 5k, made up of 91 males and 58 females. We were first away and had a 3 minute head start on the ladies.

Now that Mark Stone has wrapped up the non-wetsuit division of the long course 50-59 category of the Great Victorian Swim Series, he has now set his sights on cleaning up the wetsuit category too. Mark had a brilliant swim and won in a time of 1:08:22, 10 seconds clear of English triathlete Roger Witz Barnes.

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Photo Credit: Alan Collett

There was 2 minute gap back to 3rd where Owen Leggett from the Brunswick Belugas and Magnus Michelsson were neck and neck as they approach the finish line. Owen won the final wade and the run up the beach for 3rd place.

Magnus Michelsson is an incredible athlete where he has run the gruelling 87km Comrades Marathon a total of 10 times and only just recently attempted to run around the bay in a day. His endurance capability also extends to the water with a win last December in the 10k event at Williamstown.

Zahara Cox won the women’s race in a time of 1:12:33, with Christine Pouge 2nd and Kate Brooks 3rd.

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I was very pleased to have got thru the swim. I had a relatively slow start and appeared to be bouncing off other swimmers as we made our to the first buoy some 500 metres straight out off shore. The swim down to the far southern end of the course was long and we had pink marking buoys to guides us, however as per the Strava Fly By image, some chose to take a more adventurous path.

The water was pretty flat on the first lap and I was happy to chug along in a group of 6 or 7 other swimmers with a plan to build it up on the second lap. However by the time the 2nd lap came around, the wind had picked up and the water had become decidedly choppy. All that extra effort I was going to use to go a bit faster was now needed to just punch my way through the water.

We were passed by the leading pink cap ladies as we were closing out the first lap. They were going a bit quicker than us and that caused our little group to stretch out. I momentarily thought I should to jump on, however knew that level of effort was beyond me and I needed to keep something in reserve.

It was around this point I felt a gush of water down the back of my wetsuit. I assumed my zipper had come undone. It didn’t feel as though it had opened up, however the thought of it did taunt me for the remainder of the race.

On the final leg of the swim I came across Alan Collett who was swimming without a wetsuit. Alan is coming 2nd to Mark in the non-wetsuit category in the 50-59 age group. We swam shoulder to shoulder for around 500m each taking turns in setting the pace. With 500m to go, Alan bumped up the pace and I was unable to respond. Alan finished off strongly in a time of 1:18:03 in 14th place overall.. while I ended up crossing the line in 21st position in a time of 1:18:39.

1.2k MMAD Swim

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For the 1.2k, I put the fins on and tried to get some action shots. I think I need a better camera.

In my 50-59 age group it was Tim Boness leading the bunch as they rounded the first turning buoy.

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Tim, not surprisingly, still held the lead at the final buoy, with Mark Stone, backing up after the 5k, the only other swimmer to be able to hang on. Tim held off Mark for the 50-59 win by 6 seconds.

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David Fraser was the leading Peninsula Pirate and snagged 3rd.

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Pirates filled the next 4 spots with Jeff Norman, Andrew Musgrave, Mark Powell and Aurel Wachter. Dana Galbraith was also right in the mix too, however his transponder wasn’t working and did not record a result.

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Bizzy Butterworth won the 40-49 women race from Katrine Morrow and Clare Christie.

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More Pirate podiums with Colin Shugg winning the 70+ age group from Con Duyvestyn and Rod Clark.

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Female Overall Podium: Kelly Stubbins 1st, Sophie Caldwell 2nd & Danielle Smtihson 3rd

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Overall Male Podium: Mitchell Wills 1st, Darius Shultz 2nd & Dylan Knight 3rd

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W18-29 Podium: Kiera Bates 1st, Shani Burleigh 2nd & Anna Coldham 3rd

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M19-29 Podium: Mitchell Wills 1st, Darius Shultz 2nd & Nick Findeisen 3rd

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W30-39 Podium: Kelly Stubbins 1st, Lisandra De Carvalho 2nd & Molly Thwaites 3rd

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M40-49 Podium: Stephen Cronk 1st, Nathan Chenco 2nd & Finn Propper 3rd.

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M40-49 Podium: Michael Harding 1st, Tim Guille 2nd & Mark Toner 3rd

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W50-59 Podium: Barbara Smith 1st, Janette Dickey 2nd & Mel Kemp 3rd

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W60-69 Podium: Jan Jeffrey 1st, Sue Bussel 2nd & Sue Boekel 3rd

This weeks best podium performance award goes to Sue Boekel for her mermaid outfit.

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M60-69 Podium: Gerry Ticker 1st, Trevor Armstrong 2nd & Stuart Jones 3rd

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W70+ Podium: Moon Houston 1st, Pam Kempson 2nd & Dorothy Dickey 3rd

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And many thanks to Mt Martha Life Saving Club team for an excellent Australia Day.

Next GVSS swim is Queenscliff on Saturday the 28th followed by Ocean Grove on the 29th.

See also:

2017-mt-martha-5k-results

2017-mt-martha-1-2k-results

my-mt-martha-pics

mt-martha-by-gvss

The Cosy Corner Rottnest Crew by Lester Oldham

Lester does it again.. Here he catches up with the Cosy Corner Crew about preparing for the Rottnest Swim, arguably Australia’s biggest marathon swim. He digs in deep to gets a lot of good information regarding preparing and on how to get through it.. Plus the crew seem like really good blokes.

=∞=

Cosy Corner Crew to take on Rottnest swim for an excellent cause

These boys have done the work… 365 days per year… the result should follow..

I hope that this article might be an inspiration to all open water swimmers. It is a brief outline of the hard work which a small group of Torquay based swimmers put in in order to complete the grueling Rottnest Island swim… around 20 kms.

Over the past five years at Cosy Corner Torquay, I have swum regularly with a group of wetsuit wearing, mature age boys and girls who congregate, at 8 AM every morning.. I need to add.. only “in the warmer months, from late November until May at the very latest”.

Invariably, as we entered the water, a very small (they might argue “elite”), group of mainly bare chested enthusiasts has been exiting. Without exception there is an exchange of banter, often revolving around issue of the need for wetsuits!

This group swim every day… rarely swims less than 3 km per morning and at times aims to swim as far as 5 km, (and very very recently 10 km) swimming either from Cosy corner to beyond Fishermans beach and back, or they travel to Anglesea for a bit of variation and competition with the old pals and locals.— to Pt Roadknight from the Surf Club and back.

I cornered the robustly enthusiastic, Colin Brodie who has completed two solo Rottnest swims and is a regular (365 days per year) very early morning (6am or 6.30 am and sometimes as late as 7am) swimmer at Cosy Corner.

My purpose?..  to prize loose some of the essential details of what it takes to complete a major distance swim such as Rottnest.

Right now Col is entering the final phase of preparations for Rotto Mk3.

Both Colin and the group Coach have previously completed numerous Rotto team events, but (without conveying any disrespect to team entrants) “Solo Rottos” are a different challenge. There is no respite.

Col is always there at 5.50… Billy at 5.30 (he takes a month to put his wettie on…and even then has to partially remove it to install his heart monitor!).. Damo (Damien Jerinic) is there at 5.55, enthusiasm to the core… then Mike (Michael Beck) rocks up, still half asleep.. then at 6.01-05 Cooky (Brian Cook) the Coach’s gleaming white Mustang crawls into the parking lot.. and with a grunt here and there, an burst of (largely unanswered, very prying) questions we are into it.

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Col and Brian before the Rottnest Swim

Post the big effort

Post the big effort

Questions for Col abound – why are you doing this grueling event? where did the inspiration spring from?… just for starters.

I thought that it might be interesting to investigate with Colin some of the specifics such as:

Do you all really swim 365 days of the year?

Col: Yes, if we are in Torquay we will swim pretty much every day, rain hail shine, but we draw the line at lightning storms sometimes.

What is the essence of the training program throughout the year? How does one prepare to swim for what is after all, the equivalent in time of a full normal working day?

Even more basic is the question.. why do they do it?

Last question first perhaps.

Last year and this Col has swum under the banner of the Australian Prostate Cancer Research Organization.

Here is the link to the site of that organization and information confirming how anyone wishing to donate to its purposes can do so now, before the race on 25th February 2017.

The donation page on website:-

http://www.prostatecancerresearch.org.au/support-us/donate/

Under Gift Information, type in ‘Rottnest’ in the third box where is says “Gift/Donation/Fundraising for”

This time Col, Brian Cook, Peter Keogh and Simon Howden are all swimming the race with combined purposes… all naturally to finish their single swims (Peter and Simon for the first time) and all are driven by the desire to raise funds for Prostate Cancer research via these donations. So if you want to help… please donate!

Back to the training at Cosy Corner Torquay

Col : Colder months mean that the water temp drops to about 11c so we just swim the Torquay “hats”, trying to stay in for 4 to 6 hats at least. (about 1.5km to 2.1km) Anything longer and we freeze up. We sometimes have word tests with more complicated words…and that produces amusing outcomes at times. I will occasionally do about 1or 2km at RACV heated pool before the ocean swim to keep the km’s up.(It’shard walking into 11c ocean after a heated pool!!).

How many swims per day do you do and how far do you estimate that you are swimming per week?

Col: Peak training starts early January, and usually 2 or 3 sessions a day. (2 ocean, 1 RACV) Average weekly about 28 – 30km.

Are any of you sorely tempted in midwinter to don a wetsuit?

Col: Becky (Michael Beck) and Damo (Damien Jerinic) have wetty jammers molded onto their bodies. Becky sheds his around November, Damo. ask him.

Becky (speaking in the third person): To be entirely accurate however, Mike has now shed his without any reduction in speed or durability of effort, in fact his growth in the sport is significant.

Given that there’re no hot showers at Cosy corner, Why hasn’t anybody contracted a serious illness?

Col: Hmm, I do get the odd cold, but I think more from overtraining (OCD) and going from pool to ocean. Generally we all just get the usual man flu occasionally. This winter we come prepared with esky’s full of hot water to tip over ourselves in the car park. Some of us have some high tech showers operated by 12 volt pumps. Yes, we have been known to share showers!!

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A mid winter morning post swim shower at Cosy Corner

Colin, Brian Cook and you are the overt “driving spirits” of this group, with Cooky being the Coach.. with his mix of calls from “10,10,10 ( slow, medium fast) to 20/20 (medium/fast… all counting one arm only) to Pink Buoy and lets see you then! “And, on days when the waves are surging around the point, the call is “hats only today”.

Col: Cooky is the unchallenged driving spirit, I am merely assistant (vocal) coach. The inspiration came from him…he has completed 10 solo Rottos and numerous Team crossings. We are swimming mates from the days when we holidayed in Anglesea. Once over a coffee with other swim mates from Anglesea (Ingleby, Cookie, Bruce Anderson, Kerry White) it was pointed out that I was the odd man out—the only one in the group who had NOT done Rottnest. I am a dead sucker for a personal challenge. And I was cornered We had all been swim buddies in the Anglesea SLSC.

The group is divided into two categories.

Col and Cookie are solo swimmers at Rotto.. they are way too competitive for Rule 10(3) to ever enter their contemplation (that rule requires team swimmers to stay close throughout the swim).

Col: The group is always amazed at Cooky and how he can front up after a huge night (eg Brownlow) and having little to no sleep, still crack the whip and almost full speed. Likewise with Becky and Damo, however they tend to resort to maybe a pair of hats. This is why I completely abstain from alcohol for up to 6 months, because, contrary to popular belief, there’s NO such thing as just One drink! In my case zero has been the best solution. Unlike my compatriots.

Actually the Rotto committee took a poll of past solo swimmers on our thoughts of boat sharing. Both Cooky and me voted against it. My reason, a solo swim is completely personal and selfish and I did not want to have to worry about anyone other than myself. I want my crew focussed on me 150%!

Damien and Michael are the reverse… team orientated to the point that they performed “Best Man” duties for each other, that team spirit has survived to see them register as a duo team for Rotto.

I have mentioned to these guys (AKA the detox twins) that when they were at school, they probably studied for exams the night before!! Does that give you an idea?? Actually both of them have improved out of sight. A year ago, we could lap Becky in about 6 or 8 hats. Now he is right with us, as long as he has not had a night out, which is what he does a lot of. Damo has an inner strength. So far he has not figured out how to milk the swell when it’s behind him (he will), but when he pushes into in, he’s a monster. They just need to learn to get used to swim through the pain and mental barrier!!

The novices, Michael Beck & Damien Jerinic.

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Damien

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Michael

This is the Rottnest Swim course and a copy of Colin Brodie’s swim record via his Garmin Watch.

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We are therefore talking about a swim involving approximately 20 km’s across a deep open water channel.

There are many rules but to summarise, probably the more important ones, might be considered to be the following:

  • Entry fees –solo $345, two-person team $580, team group $1050.
  • Each swimmer must be accompanied by a powered boat and a kayak paddler many, including Colin, take back up paddlers just in case, as it is no easy feat to paddle “slowly” for 20km. Also a (shark) spotter is a good idea.
  • There are rules regarding the commencement and end of contact with the boats, although the Paddler can stay with a swimmer up to approximately the last 500 m
  • A power boat may be shared by two swimmers but if this occurs,”Sharing” includes” caring”.. ie staying to roughly within 10 meters

Perhaps the other question that comes most readily to mind is this:

“how long will it take?”

Col’s efforts were recorded as follows:

  • 2016: 8hrs 4mins 22secs.
  • 2015: 9hrs 59mins 45 secs

While naturally times will vary from swimmer to swimmer and year-to-year, depending on the conditions, the fastest individual in 2016 was timed at 4hrs 48mins 57 secs and the fastest two man team was timed: 4hrs 44mins by a mixed team!! Beating the fastest male team.

The average solo swimmer of middle swimming age seemed to take in the order of 6hrs 49mins for men and 6hrs 50mins for women (this is the median time).

Based on completed solos, the ratio of Men to Women is about 70% to 30%.

With all that background in mind, how does one adequately and properly prepare for such a challenging event? Here Col is quite unequivocal.

Col: Lots and lots of km in ocean!! Pool is good for pace, but can’t beat ocean for endurance.

Note this link from my Garmin, I forgot to turn it off at the very end, I wonder why?  https://connect.garmin.com/modern/activity/1093188895

Below is the post race wrap up, followed by my ramblings.

The proportion of swimmers safely completing the crossing has long been a key measure of success for race organisers. This year, 99% of swimmers who started at Cottesloe successfully finished the event. The last three years have been 93% (2015), 99% (2014) and 95% (2013). While 99% is a great result, we will be speaking with those who didn’t finish to learn why and assess whether we can help in mitigating this.

Started Finished
Solo 260 253
Duo 189 (378) 188 (376)
Team 458 (1,832) 455 (1,820)
CotC 38 (55) 37 (54)
Total Boats 920 908
Total Swimmers 2,525 2,503

Medicals

Event day saw three swimmers treated by on-water medical support and taken back to Fremantle, with none resulting in hospitalisation. Two were for hypothermia and one for sea sickness.

There were 46 swimmers who received medical support on the island. Over 75% of these were treated for hypothermia, with the majority being solo swimmers, almost all of whom were treated and discharged within a short time. One swimmer received extensive medical treatment as a result of this condition and low sodium levels. Providing education surrounding the warning signs and treatment of hypothermia will continue to be a priority for future briefings.

Sustenance on the big day both before and during the swim.

Col: (guided by Coach Cookie)

For solo food/drinks

  • Nuun hydration with water
  • plain water

Foods  (it varies from swimmer to swimmer, as some just can’t hold solids down while others need solids)

  • breakfast muesli with yogurt
  • soft peaches & soft pears
  • creamed rice
  • snakes/lollies
  • at about 12 to 15k mark some protein eg chicken drumsticks, ham slices

The real secret came from Brian. His secret, creamed rice! It works!!. I also have stewed fruit in coconut water. Those 2 are may staple, together with drinks, and various over the counter addatives!

Stop every hour or so for drinks and possibly eats.

What does a bloke think about for 8–10 hours?

Here Colin chirps in: The first solo was a bit emotional for me. The conditions were extremely “unpleasant”. Many pulled out, and not just solos, teams and even paddlers. This was a 10 hour slog. I actually thought of my father (he passed away prostate then bone cancer about 10 years prior) and tried to get a lift from him and memories etc.

I just thought about that and about the next drink/food stop. At one point I thought I was so close to the finish that the boat was meant to peel off and moor. I asked why they were still with me, they said I had 2 more km to go before they needed to peel off! That did my head in badly. Needed to dig deep for that, about 3 or 4 km further. The following swim (and now the 2017) I joined with the charity APCR (Australia Prostate Cancer Research) and helped them in seeking donations to assist in them finding a cure for this insidious disease.

The second crossing was more relaxed, with some experience under my belt. I knew I was in good shape when my trainer buddy and Rotto crew team member from Cosy (Damo) was swimming next to me and struggled to keep up. This was explained later when I told my crew there was a slab of beer on the boat, to be told, “not any more”.

Is it all just a hard slog or are there funny moments?

Brian: I am always thinking about how fast or slow I am going due to tides, currents, swell, winds.

One year I swam over a rock I thought I had recognised earlier and I stopped swimming and asked the boat skipper how I was swimming and he answered, “I’m sorry mate but I didn’t have the heart to tell you that we have hardly moved in the last hour!”. I was devastated and swam sideways for a while and got out of the current.

Then there was the time when the skipper decided to take a route south of the rottnest island as the forecast was for a strong “Fremantle Doctor” wind to come in early afternoon which of course would sweep me into the island. Needless to say the Doctor didn’t arrive and I swam an extra 5 kms that day. I was the crankiest on that day and time in all my rottnest swims.

It’s a 20 km swim and you find your own wide space from at least mid way. One year another solo swimmer kept on taking my space and on a second Occassion when he actually bumped into me I stopped and yelled out to him and his crew,

“what’s wrong with you, are you efffing blind?! “

one of his crew members responded,

“Yes he is”!

At the end of the race I found the blind swimmer and apologised!

then there was the time my crew ate my food, the swimmers food by mistake (they ate my chicken drumsticks!).

This may sound corny but I think of how beautiful the sea is (unless it is howling wind with choppy swell). I think of my stroke and find alignment with the conditions, I think about getting stronger in my body the longer I swim, I think of my children, my grandchildren, my partner, my work, my friends, my next challenging trip with one of my children eg traveled with Tim to my Everest base camp, going to Greece for swim tour with Jodi in June etc.

Swimming at Cosy Corner in concert in the mornings with the elite 4 are Michael Sheppard (when he is at Torquay) who is a genuine gun swimmer in his own right, plus wife Barb, an acquatic enthusiast, Cameron… who is truth is very slick in the water (Col insists it’s the jammers that gives Cam the edge!!!) and (despite a lack of training opportunities due to travel this year) probably leads the pack over any distance, be it short or longer. Then there is Bustling Billy, (Chilly Billie) who wears a wettie (and heart monitor) and flies along very well for someone who hasn’t turned his hand to swimming until the last few years.

Then, there are ring ins like Richard, who swam through the winter months and yours truly. None of the latter will be at Rotto on 25/2 but we will all be watching for these four names closely as we have all possibly had a even little bit to do in the long effort put in by the Coach, Damo, Mike and Col… who is the prime mover.. in getting them to the start line.

I hope that if you read this you will give a thought to how the Cosy Corner Crew Col Brodie, Brian Cook, Damien Jerinic and Michael Beck go at Rotto in Feb.

Go boys go!

Here are some shots of the big day:

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The flotilla of support boats

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The “channel” to the finish line

Interesting things to note here.. the support vessels stand back at 2 km from the finish. Further back, on the skyline tall buildings can be seen on the distant mainland.

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Colin “breasting” the finish line with the clock a corroborating witness

Note: he can still manage a jog… maybe it was a token one, but a jog is a jog!

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