2017 Mt Martha Australia Day Swim


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.


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.


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


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.


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.


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


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.


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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.


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


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


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:





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.


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:-


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!!


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.





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


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


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:


The flotilla of support boats


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.


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!

See also:

2017 Danger 2500 Open Water Swim

Today’s swim was the Danger 2500, which is the 5th race of the Great Victorian Swim Series, hosted by Jan Juc Surf life Saving Club in the bay known as Cosy’s Corner at Torquay.

Cosy Corner

My lead up to the Danger 2500 has not been ideal.. After the Rock2Ramp I somehow picked up a virus which knocked me for 6. I had a fever, lost my appetite, a chesty cough, everything hurt and I didn’t have an ounce of energy. I ended up getting dehydrated, passed out, an ambulance called and was put under observation at Box Hill Hospital. The tests were done and I had fluids & pain relief pumped into me & I was soon home.


I spent the next couple of days resting hoping for a miracle recovery so I could do the RipView swim at Point Lonsdale which was the 4th swim of the Great Victorian Swim Series. Unfortunately there was no miracle & therefore I had to default on my entry.

A couple of days later I jumped back in the pool. I was coughing and spluttering and I still had zero fitness. I could keep up with the time cycles, I couldn’t complete our swim sets. The wheels had really fallen off.

I had two weeks to effectively rebuild to get myself ready for the Danger 2500. I was steadily improving, but still not 100%, but certain I could do the swim.

Then the next set back was coming off my bike on the Friday evening commute. The day before the swim. A commute I have done for 22 years. A commute I can do with my eyes closed. Some rain made the pontoon bridges along the Yarra at Burnley slippery and before I knew it I was sliding along the ground. I couldn’t believe it. I still can’t. Thankfully nothing was broken and it was just a flesh wound. A very stingy flesh wound.

So rocking up to Cosy Corner nice and early, I just wasn’t sure how the day was going to pan out.

The Danger 2500 is an open event so no age categories.. but the age based placing all contribute to your best 5 results. Mark Stone who has been swimming without a wetsuit is leading the 50-59 age group. An absolute gun swimmer and I assume once he secures the non-wetsuit category, he will put on his suit and start racking up points in the wetsuit category.

Tim Boness has two wins under his belt so far in the series and he is committed to doing another 3 and is certainly going to win the category.

There were 175 starters in the Danger 2500, 111 males and 64 females which were set off in separate waves 10 minutes apart.

During my warm up swim, I was not feeling all that confident. The abrasions on my leg and hip were stinging and there was no way that I was going to be able to go too hard. However once we were sent away the sting pain seemed to be ok. I thought I got away nicely. however it felt like there were plenty of people ahead who got away better than I did.

All I could do was swim. Head down and swim, concentrate of the stroke and make sure I am heading in the right direction. I managed to pick up a few places at the first turning point and was feeling relatively ok. There was a nice little group ahead and on the inside who were tantalisingly close. I needed to make a call as to whether I hold my line (which I thought was pretty good) or put in an effort and see if I could find some toes. I held my line and expected to cross paths as we got closer to the Zeally bay end of the course. I was wrong.. and had missed the bus.

We turned left and head back to shore.. this section felt hard.. and what looked like 100 metres on the course map turned out to be more like 500. Finally made the distance and headed back to Cosy Corner.. and from all accounts we were swimming into a bit of a current.

I had someone on my toes giving them an occasional tap and people ahead to chase. The energy levels were dropping.. I just needed to hold it for another 10 minutes. I made the final buoy with some relief with the toe tapper still there.

The last 100 meters was tough. I lined up the finish banner, however the water was always dragging you to the right of the target. I tried to keep the line high. I was wishing for a wave to pick me up and drop me on the shore.


Photo Credit: Brendan Randall

I touched sand and started my wade. I was no match for the toe tapper.. However also standing up on equal terms was the non-wetsuited Mark Stone. I knew it was him.. but he didn’t know it was me. I ran up the beach as if I had stolen something. I dropped 3 seconds to the toe tapper, but held 2 seconds to Mark. Not my best swim, however I was very happy I to have got thru it.


Up ahead it was Robbe Dilissen who showed a clean set of heals to win the swim in a time of 29:49.


Photo Credit: GVSS

The race for remaining podium positions was tight with Nigel Fanning just nudging ahead of Tim Boness by 1 solitary second on the sprint up the beach.

Danger2500 Podium

Rebecca Henderson was the 1st female in a time of 32:44. Like the mens, the race for 2nd and 3rd was decided by the run up the beach with Annie Cox securing 2nd pace by 1 second to Lisandra De Carvalho.

In my fragile frame of mind and with the weather closing in.. I skedaddled home and missed the Danger 1000. Looking at the results and the various pictures.. it was Sam Sheppard who was backing up from last weeks Lorne Pier to Pub victory and recorded the fastest swim of the day. Rebecca, Robbe & Tim also went on to win their respective categories. Jan Jeffrey and Gerry Tucker added to the couple count by also winning their age groups.

Next swim of the GVSS is next Sunday at Sorrento.

See also:





The Sheppard Family Lorne Pier to Pub Wrap up by Lester Oldham

Following up on the story about the Six Seafaring Sheppard’s taking on Pier to Pub, Lester catches up with the family to see how the day went. Another great story Lester, thanks for sourcing.


Lorne Pier to Pub 2017 is done and dusted. Sam chalked up win No. 7 and beat an Olympic Gold Medallist in the process.

My purpose is to establish what the day meant to each of the 6 Sheppard family members, what they felt about the swim itself and whether getting actively involved will have any lasting influence over their lives, their family activities or future longer term aims… fitness and activity wise!


From left Michael, Barb, Alice , Sam , Harriet and Maddy

So here goes…


Pier to Pub is the quintessential summer day for me and is always a highlight whether I’m there as a swimmer or a spectator. I didn’t manage to do much preparation this year, but swimming the event did help me cement my plans of finally joining a masters swimming squad in 2017 (and trying to find some semblance of a work life balance!).

It also may have started a new rivalry and prepared the stage for a sisters’ showdown in 2019. Alice clocked in a faster time than I did – I swam last when the tide was higher and the conditions had slightly changed – ( well that’s my story anyway !!) — to settle this rivalry we will need to wait until 2019 when all three of us sisters will be in the same age bracket and race in the same wave.


I enjoyed the swim / race far more than I thought I would, being my first ever ocean / open water race. I had estimated a much slower time (30 minutes) on the entry form than I swam (ended up at 20 minutes) so I was put in the 2nd wave of 30+ women. It was all quite pleasant… everyone in that group was very polite and not pushy at all.

Personally, I found that committing to the swim was a big motivating factor to get out and do training to be fitter before P2P. I wanted to do it and now really I feel happy.. I have completed my first swim !!!


I am really glad that Sam made me do the swim. Having been over 12 years since my last open water race I was worried about how hard it would feel. The actual race was much easier than I had feared. The pre-race worries / nerves were more stressful than the race itself.

I am now inspired to do more swims this summer season and want to be a role model to my 2 young children (at the moment particularly my 5 y/o daughter). I want to show that swimming is an activity everyone should be able to do. I want them to see ‘their mum’ being active and competing – and not be a parent who pushes her child into an activity that they’re not prepared to do herself .


(the mother of those three and of Sam… in case you missed it!)

I was really anxious before the start of the race. I am short sighted and even with prescription goggles find it hard to navigate. In the race, although I couldn’t see very far, I made sure I swam near other swimmers – and a couple of times when I did travel “wide” the lifesavers on the boards on the outside of the course would point me in the right direction. I was also worried that the next wave of men starting 5 minutes behind would catch me and swim over the top – (maybe that caused me to swim even faster… recalling the blood nose I had copped recently at Cosy Corner Torquay, and, guess what.. they never caught up.)

What’s next ??? I am looking forward to doing a swim / sail week in Greek Islands in June – that has been a dream holiday ambition for over 20 years.


(The ‘old man’ )

After 2 hip replacements last summer and heart surgery 4 years ago (an ablation to fix atrial fibrillation) it was great to compete in my first P2P for over 10 years. I think if I compete again next year I’ll be up to sharkbait membership with 10 swims – but I may have lost count and may need another one. Also aiming to do more longer swims – but definitely on the slow and steady basis rather than winning age group categories. Sam is pushing me do the Rottnest swim in 2018. (nearly 20 km in one hit).

As a broader observation, being both a long term swimmer and surf Life Saver, I think that Swimming 100 metres should be mandatory for every primary school child by 10 (go Laurie Lawrence). It is just such an essential life skill; for safety, for enjoyment, for a life time fitness option. I’m pleased that Sam encouraged / pushed the whole family to swim P2P this year and get back to swimming more and enjoying what they always knew they did until life got in the way.


“This year’s Pier to Pub was more about getting the family to all swim it compared to last year’s where I was always aiming at winning. Unfortunately due to (my sensational, gifted, ultra athletic.. how lucky am I to have her.. girlfriend ) Elly being swamped in Uni work she was unable to swim this year.

I quickly found out where I must get my nerves before a race and they clearly come from Barb and she was quite jittery before her race for good reason as she can hardly see plus being hit by a triathlete the week before wouldn’t have helped swimming with lots of other swimmers.

My race was quite surprising considering I’m winding down my swimming career and would be lucky to get in two swimming sessions in a week which I just use to help keep the weight off. I suppose though you never lose the skill you learn from hundreds of races around the world which clearly helped on winning my 7th.

Once I finished I was more interested in when my ultra competitive, swim starved (too many Crocs in the water where she has been!) sister, Harriet Sheppard would finish as she started a few waves back and once she was done, then all the Sheppard’s would be finished. It was a memorable day for all of us, but primarily because this was the first time that mum, dad, my three older sisters and I have all competed in the same event.

 A Spectator’s Viewpoint

I won’t attempt to find the quote but I do recall Sam answering the question after the race about “what P2P win #7  meant” to him.

After paying credit to his main rivals, he unhesitatingly said that the main import of the day was that for the first time, all of his family had taken part in this event at the same time.

No parent watching and listening could have failed to be proud of that response.


I watched the finish from 25 meters distance… in knee deep water… and was amazed that Sam was able to seize such an advantage from a mere hint of a wave. 8 meters behind with 120 to go (including the run), he seemed to be on top of that modest wave and utterly swim-sprinted to emerge almost shoulder to shoulder when these two excellent athletes emerged erect to start the water run. Without any disrespect to anyone else, the run in was a virtual one horse race.


The age old saying ” never give up” was front of mind.


It was exhilarating.


Finished and utterly spent… but Sam wins his 7th P2P


Jan Jeffrey & Gerry Tucker Swimming Couples by Lester Oldham

Those who have come to watch this event are in overcoats and parkers.

It’s 2nd January 2017 and I am standing shivering with dozens of competitors near to the start of the Rip View Classic. Occasional very light rain and an unwelcome onshore wind brings a penetrating chill to those waiting.. we are all held up by “stragglers” in the early long swim — after all it would be bad manners for the short course (1.4) competitors to “swim over the top” of them. It is then that I notice that two of our age “region” are locked in a mutually protective embrace against the elements.

About 30 minutes later both will be standing on the Podium at Pt Lonsdale, accepting their winners medals for their age levels.


Photo Credit: GVSS

The affectionate couple? Jan Jeffrey and Gerry Tucker.

I have been fortunate enough to secure the agreement this couple who are two of the country’s more outstanding senior swimmers , to a reciprocal assessment of their general swimming history, training techniques, competition preparation (in particular for open water swims), and race day approaches of Gerry and Jan.

Both compete in the 60-70 age group waves with outstandingly consistent success. It would be interesting, for example, to know whether they are both bilateral breathers and whether they breathe every third stroke in races or whether they only breathe ‘away’ from the waves? It would also be rather fascinating to know how it works in practice… do they train together and identically? and most importantly, just how are the domestic responsibilities apportioned in the Jeffrey/Tucker home!

Jan is a regular winner of her wave, even though (in her ten year grouping) she is advancing “mathematically”. I sometimes have to compete in Gerry’s wave and it is fair to say, in general terms,  “if Gerry swims, Gerry wins”.

So he is generally on his third banana by the time I land ashore. In a much broader World/State context, I also need to say of Jan and Gerry that they are both World Master’s Swimming games Champions and in Russia last year Jan broke 4 World Records (one by a mammoth 3 seconds) and at the same Games Gerry won 3 World titles.

Back on level ground in good old Aus… both have won their respective age group in the Victorian Showpiece swim, Lorne’s Pier to Pub. Jan has done so in her age group 9 times. So, without overstating the point, they are and have been champion senior age swimmers, nationally and internationally.

First, however, a touch of background.


Jan and Gerry first met roughly a tad over 5 decades ago when they were both fresh faced 12 year olds and coincidentally members of a junior swim squad run by their then coach, the late Bill Atkinson.
They remained members of the group for a few years and at around age 14, it is fair to say that both were more than a little aware of each other’s presence.

The expression “crush” might be appropriate. However life and the need to study and establish careers necessarily intervened and Jan and Gerry established themselves in professions. They, quite separately, met and married their respective spouses and each had two children .

Fast forward a few decades to the early 1990’s.

They are now both living independently. Jan had unfortunately had a significant health challenge and part of the recovery regime involved regular exercise including swimming. Following the unwavering black line alone proved tedious and to Jan’s relief she bumped into Gerry who had maintained his interest and involvement in competitive swimming and was a member of a swimming Squad with the Malvern Marlins.

It took little convincing to persuade Jan of the benefits of Squad training with the Marlins.
Perhaps even more interestingly, the “teenage spark” from the 1960’s was revived and they have now been life partners for just over two decades.

Both have agreed to take part in a “We Two” type tale about their swimming, addressing topics like those in the first paragraph above, with each really telling the story about the other, unfettered by my invasive questions …!

Jan, about Gerry


We met as a couple fourteen year olds training together in a squad with the legendary coach bill Atkinson. Bill was a forward thinker and based much of his training methods on the Forbes Carlisle training philosophies.

Sprints, taking heart rates, explosions, periodisation training, hypnotism and visualisation were part of our training back then. Quite revolutionary for those times and very exciting for us as kids to experience.

“Acko” (Bill Atkinson) did not push me that hard as I had a high resting heart rate and therefore didn’t need to push myself so hard. I was very happy to go along with that. Gerry has a very low HR and l do remember he trained hard always putting in 100%.

He swam with Sandringham swimming club whereas my family were rock solid surrey park members.

Every September holidays members of our squad would head to north Qld to doing some endurance training to get us ready for the Victorian championships in the summer. Swimming twice a day was so easy to do up in the wonderful Qld climate.

I remember Gerry plastering sunscreen and zinc all over his body to protect himself from the uv rays. Whereas others like me were sunbaking, using coconut oil to tan ourselves as well as peroxiding our hair for that blonde surfer look!!

Gerry was always very focused when training and Butterfly was his pet stroke back then. His highest swimming “claim to fame” was to compete in the National Age Championships in Adelaide in 1964, where he was the second fastest 14 year old 100m butterflyer to the now legendary international coach, Billy Sweetenham. Gerry’s breaststroke was not too shabby either and his freestyle was very good. It was only his backstroke that he could not master efficiently. Yet his medley swims in the pool have always been decent times.

Gerry gave up competitive swimming to concentrate on his studies at “his fathers request” and found another interest in playing in a rock band. His music interest still takes pride of place at home.

He did do school swimming but didn’t swim again with any regularity until he went to live in New York in 1983. He joined a very early Masters Club in Westport, Ct and participated in his very first open water swim race, in the long Island Sound.

I see our love of swimming, as a yin and yang relationship. That is where seemingly opposite forces may actually be complimentary, interconnected and interdependent. I think of us as two different halves that together complete wholeness. We have used swimming as our starting point. It brought us together as teenagers and then again as masters swimmers in the pool and in open water swimming.

Although it is what we love to do, we have opposing ways of handling training and swimming and life skills.

Gerry, being a retired chartered accountant, just loves figures so he has spreadsheets on almost everything even comparing our OWS performances over the years.

When both working we trained with the Marlins twice a week at night and then again on Sundays. How we ever trained at night I don’t know. I started training early mornings with my sister when I retired and Gerry followed suit. What we do like doing together is getting up early swimming at 6am or 7 am allowing us the rest of the day to do what we need or want to do.

We are both qualified Masters coaches. I have taught/coached kids squads for years. Since the early 2000’s, I have been regularly coaching the Marlins on Tuesday mornings. Gerry had never coached before he joined the Marlins. He has been coaching the Marlins several times a month over the years and had a stint as Head Coach for several years. He also now acts as a relief coach for my sister, Bev’s swim squad when the State and National coach is on leave.

We are both life members of the Malvern Marlins.

Gerry records the distance he swims in every session including the distance covered by doing butterfly, I record what we actually did and my best timed effort of the day. So far Gerry has swum over 9,000 kilometres since he started recording in 1994 and I have probably covered 7,500 to 8,000 unrecorded kms.


Gerry’s combined passion for both accounting and swimming has led to him being the Finance Director of Masters Swimming Australia for the past ten years. He was awarded life membership of that organisation in April 2016.

Gerry starts swimming in a very controlled manner and builds his swim whereas I just go for it and settle down to a manageable aerobic pace.

I love kicking (its a female thing) and Gerry suffers from that male fate of being unable to kick and float at the same time.

Gerry likes training and racing butterfly and l now prefer breaststroke (the other short axis stroke).
Gerry breathes to the right and I breathe to the left. Therefore, we each have our favourite OWS depending on whether the swim is clockwise or anticlockwise!

Gerry prefers the longer swims and me the shorter ones. Who wants to try and sight buoys for 5 kms! I’d get lost.

We have been doing the open water season for the last 22 years at least. We still get hyped up and nervous before a swim as conditions change year to year. Everyone I talk to suffers the same feelings. But excitement takes over as the starters gun is fired.

We do train in the same squad but of course we end up doing different strokes on different intervals most of the time. When we train on our own, say, when travelling in our motor home, we usually end up doing our own thing.

A set we do like doing for a warm up is 20x 50 on reducing intervals starting at 4 on 60 and getting down to 4 on 45 and sprinting the last 50 to see what we can pull out.

Gerry has had surgery on both his shoulders now as a result of many kilometres of butterfly training. He has given up the 200 fly and concentrated on longer freestyle events. This has really paid off as his ability to get faster as he warms up has made him a very good long distance freestyle swimmer hence his excellent results in open water swimming and his 3 first placings in the FINA world championships in Kazan, Russia in 2015.

As far as OWS goes, Gerry’s best result came in 2010 when he won the 60-69 age group in the pier2pub. More recently, he has twice won his age group in the Great Victorian Swim Series in the shorter distance events.

If we look back to the early 90’s we have both won our age groups numerous times together since then. It’s a pity as this may have gone unnoticed to many as we don’t share the same surname.

Gerry, about Jan.


I first met Jan when I was about 12 years old when I changed coaches from Bob Miller to Bill Atkinson. I was a budding butterflyer at the time and a member of the Sandringham Amateur Swimming Club.

Somehow, Bill managed to woo me away from Bob. Jan lived in Box Hill in a very strong swimming family and was a member of the Surrey Park Amateur swimming Club. Jan’s mother was a life member of that club. I didn’t know it at the time but Jan’s father was a coach with Bob ‘s squad.

I settled into Bill’s squad pretty quickly and it didn’t take long for me to discover this beautiful backstroker with the chlorine bleached curly hair, sparkling eyes and wonderful big smile.

Our friendship continued from there until I was 14, when I my school Principal decided that “when the water comes in, the brains go out”. So, I was required to quit Bill’s squad (and my emerging 100 butterfly career) and turn my mind to the books. After that, we parted ways, as Jan was “GI” (geographically impossible) as I lived in Sandringham and Jan in Box Hill. Jan went on to train with Bill to almost become an Olympian, being ranked second in Australia to Lynn Watson in the 100m backstroke, leading up to the 1968 Games in Barcelona. Sadly for Jan, the Australian budget was very tight that year and they only sent one 100m backstroker to the event.

So, I lost touch with Jan, having turned away from the pool and more towards the rock and roll world of the 60’s and girls who were not so GI. I understand after Jan gave up competitive swimming in 1968, she joined the Point Leo water polo team and played with them for a couple of years.

Fast forward to the mid 1990’s. We came across each other again at the local Harold Holt Swim Centre where I was already a member of the Malvern Marlins Masters Swimming Club. Jan had joined to Powerpoints Masters Swimming Club a few years before this but it didn’t work out for her, so I encouraged her to try again with the Marlins. Jan eventually agreed to join, on the one proviso….that she would never have to compete!!! We all now know how that has worked out!

Since that time, we have trained together regularly, initially under the Malvern Marlins coaches and then, as Jan began to compete (and win) more regularly, primarily under Jan’s older sister, Bev.

Bev is a long time professional swim coach and part owner of the family run Tate Swim School, now based at the Monash Aquatic and Recreation Centre. We train under Bev’s guidance to this day.

Jan joined the Marlins as a fine backstroker and a pretty handy sprint freestyler as well. Even as a teenager, Jan could not see the point of long and frequent training sessions. It still works better for us to train just three of four times a week in relatively short and sharp sessions, together with a couple of gym sessions in between. We are both have a history of soft tissue injuries, so we have learnt to avoid long drawn out pool sessions and overdoing it in the gym.

Jan had serious issues with her heart in 2012, suffering from atrial fibrillation to the point where she could not race at all. Jan missed two Masters National championships and numerous other, lesser events. But then she had a Medical procedure known as a cardiac ablation, which, after about 18 months, fixed the problem. Since then, Jan has swum and raced without any atrial fibrillation issues.

Although Jan has managed to avoid major soft tissue surgery for swimming injuries, she has had her share of shoulder pain, particularly when training backstroke. Eventually, the shoulder pain got to the point where Jan couldn’t train backstroke with any conviction, so in about 2010, Jan turned her mind and training to breaststroke. Since then, Jan has not looked back. Under Bev’s coaching, Jan has developed a more powerful and aggressive (yet still smoothe!) style of breaststroke that leaves her peers languishing in her wake.


Her new-found skill in breaststroke has taken her to the highest level in Masters swimming as she currently holds no less than four FINA Masters world records in the stroke, from 50m to 200m, in both short and long course pools for the 65-69 year age group. Jan has broken the FINA World 200 LC record no less than four times in the past 20 months!

Of course, this is not to say that Jan has let her sprint freestyle slide. Jan’s recent times for the 50 freestyle rank her in the top three in the world for the 65-69 year age group, clocking a 32.08 for the LC 50m in April 2016.

fullsizerender-1Jan’s quality training regime also makes her one of the best of her age in the open water swims. Jan started swimming OW races a couple of years after me, back in 1994, with moderate success at first. As she honed her skills in this new sport for her, she rose through the ranks to be one of the best in the country for her age at the shorter (1.0 to 1.5k) events. Jan first won the Lorne Pier to Pub swim in 2003. Since then Jan has won her age group for the event no less than nine times. Very few other P2P swimmers could make such a claim.

Jan has won her age group in all the major events around Victoria on numerous occasions and won the 60 to 69 year age group in the Great Victorian Swim Series in the shorter races for 2015/16.

Perhaps one can also attribute some of Jan’s recent successes to our changed lifestyle in the past six years. We endeavour to spend as much as possible of the Melbourne winter on the Sunshine Coast. While this takes us away from sister, Bev, as our coach, it does allow us to train in the relative comfort of the warmer weather and to swim in the ocean as well during the winter.

I suppose some readers who have got this far are hanging out for the secrets to our success in open water swims. Sorry to disappoint! We would have to kill you if we were to tell you that! However, we can share with you that neither of us breathe bilaterally in OWS races. Neither Bob nor Bill taught us to swim that way and 62 years later, we still don’t do it!


Photo Credit: GVSS


Photo Credit: GVSS


Photo Credit: GVSS