In the lead up to Swim to Rotto nerves took over and I faced a lot of self doubt. I knew that I could not let fear take over, I had to believe in my abilities and that all my hard work would pay off. Determined to achieve my goal I just had to focus on my swimming stroke and my breathing. Surely that was enough to get me over to the island?
About The Rottnest Channel Swim
Swim to Rotto is one of Western Australia’s iconic events, the Rottnest Channel Swim is a 19.7km open water swim from Cottesloe Beach to Rottnest Island. The race can be done as a solo, duo or in a team of four and you need to have a support crew of a boat and a paddler.
The weather had been kind to us and the water was nice and flat. To my surprise I had control over my nerves and I was ready to get out on the water. I arrived at Cottesloe with plenty of time to register and get my timing belt. The atmosphere from the beach was amazing but you could spot quite a few nervous faces, anxious about their swim.
I was lined up on the beach with female and mixed duo teams waiting for our wave start. Once the hooter sounded we were off, running into the water and starting our epic swim. I was stuck in the pack, getting sandwiched with swimmers on either side. As I didn’t want to lose any teeth or get injured at the start of the race, I just moved aside and found my own space. It was going to be a long day and we were not going for any records so I figured it was better to have some space and get into my rhythm.
At the 500m buoy I met up with Pete who was paddling for us and I let him guide me. Swimming close to the kayak we made our way out to the icon vessel, The Leeuwin which was located 1500m from the beach. Things were going well other than the stingers wrapping their tentacles around me.
Before I knew it Kate was in the dingy, jumping into the water giving me a high-five and starting on her leg of the swim. I struggled to get back into the dingy and landed head first in the boat. Extremely concerned about the energy I used to get into the dingy I was hoping we could find a better way to change over.
On our main boat it was time to have something to eat, get in some fluids and apply some sunscreen as it was a hot day. Before I knew it, it was time to get back in the water. We had a slight problem, we could not find Kate and Pete. They were out on the water but we had lost sight of them. Contacting Pete by radio we tried to find a reference point so we could locate them. If felt like forever before we spotted them in the pack and could make the change over.
For the rest of the swim we were able to use a ladder to climb into the main boat which I was grateful for as it conserved some energy. Starting off with 20 minute swims we had a smooth run. The 12km marker seemed to come up pretty quick and we were on track to make the swim in the time we hoped for.
One of the support persons on our boat got a text to say that City Beach had been closed due to a 2.5 meter shark being spotted. Not the news I wanted to hear and from then on every dark spot in the ocean was making me a little nervous. I needed to push that thought out of my mind and concentrate on our swim.
The wind started to pick up a little and there was a bit of swell which was making the swim a little more challenging. We dropped our swimming stints down to 15 minutes and then again to 10 minutes when we felt a strong current.
Getting closer to the end of our swim the water was getting crowded. It was like a funnel with all the swimmers, paddles and boats meeting up at the same point. On occasions I came extremely close to other boats but thankfully it was the bow and not the propeller!
Around the 18km mark our boat left us as the water was just too congested. We were tag teaming by hanging onto the back of the kayak. Poor Pete’s arms were getting a work out for the next kilometer.
The chilled bottle of Moet that was waiting for us once we crossed the finish line seem to be out of reach. Land was so close and the ocean floor was changing with lots of sea grass visable, I knew that we were almost there. The last few kilomoters just never seemed to end.
Finally the water was shallow enough to stand and we still had energy to run up the beach and over the finish line in 7 hours and 50 minutes.
We had done it, we had swam to Rottnest Island as a duo! I was so concerned in the lead up to the swim that we would not make our goal as we both had injuries. I am so proud of our efforts and let me tell you the Moet tasted pretty good!
A big thank you goes out to all the event organisers, sponsors and all our support crew. We had amazing people on the boat who kept us fed, hydrated and most importantly kept us safe during our swim.