2016 Rottnest Channel Training – Part 3

Swimfari Duo

In our last Rottnest Channel Training post we shared some of our training methods in the lead up to the Rottnest Channel Swim. Since then we’ve combined interval training for fitness and continued to supplement this with additional bay swims in the mornings to increase our total distance. On average we’re now swimming at least 14 kilometres per week plus any additional swims or competitions we can squeeze in between our regular swims.

One of those extra sessions was a precursor to one of our distance event…

Reconnaissance Swim

The Bloody Big Swim is an annual event held in Victoria’s (Australia) Port Phillip Bay since 2004 and covers 11.2km from Frankston Life Saving Club to Mills Beach Mornington. Swimmers can enter as a solo, duo or team of 4. As part of our Rottnest Channel Swim training we’ve decided to take on the BBS as solo swimmers.

Logistically this swim is as tricky as the Rottnest Channel Swim. Being a ‘straight-line’ event you swim from one location and finish at another. Each solo swimmer requires a kayaker and boat unless you can prove you completed at least a solo 5km event. In that case you’re only required a kayaker, which makes logistics a little bit easier.

Pat, who is swimming the Rottnest Channel Swim as a solo this year, has now become a regular Rottnest Channel training partner with our Swimfari Duo. Pat and Friedo caught up one Sunday morning and swam the first stage of the Bloody Big Swim course starting in front of the Frankston LSC. We were joined by Emma, Friedo’s partner, who is also in training to be his kayaker for the BBS.

Rottnest Channel Training BBS recon

It was early Sunday morning and conditions were perfect. The water was flat, temperature warming up and the water a little chillier than north of the Bay, but crystal clear. Our goal was to swim for at least half an hour one way and then turn back (can’t help but be reminded of a scene in Gattaca). After reaching the half hour mark we were feeling pretty good and decided to continue on a little further. We swam an additional 10 minutes until we came to a boat race and decided to turn back. Because we didn’t have a GPS watch we’d placed an iPhone in the hull of the kayak and tracked the swim with Strava. All up we covered 5.7km in 1 hour, 38 minutes.

Having other swimmers join you is great for motivation and safety, especially if you’re swimming in open water. Not to mention you help push each other just that little bit further. And with social media it’s easy to organise a swimming partner at short notice if you belong to a number of ‘groups’. There are plenty of local groups you can join if you know a few people and using Facebook Groups or Messenger as well as WhatsApp or creating a private message group amongst friends on your mobile phone can give you plenty of ways to organise or join an impromptu swim.

If you’re training for any event you can’t go past joining a social media group or community of swimmers to swim and train with.

Of course, if you’re worried about your personal safety it’s best to get introduced to a group through people you already know.

The Big 10km Test

Our next big swim was the Swimming Victoria State Open Water Championship. Having completed the 100x100s two weeks prior we at least knew we could swim the distance. Unlike the 100x100s where we got to rest for about 10-15 seconds between each 100 metres, and an additional two minutes between each set of ten, this swim would be a continuous 10km, swum as four laps of a 2.5km course.

The forcast was for a +40°C day with strong northerly winds. Held at the northern end of Port Phillip Bay at Williamstown LSC meant that the course was relatively well sheltered with not much chop developing as the winds increased.

50+ sunscreen was a must!

We’d arranged to share a ‘feeder’ with Pat’s son Marcus stepping up to help. Marcus was also taking part in his first ever open water swim that day, the 1.2km WOW Challenge.

We didn’t really think the feeds through properly with Marcus still finishing his race as we were preparing to start ours. Logistics and rules for feeding weren’t explained very well so we had to ‘wing it’ and hope that it would all work out. As it turned out, Marcus swam well and did a great job keeping us nourished. There was a little confusion halfway though our race where both Pablo and Friedo missed a feed but other than that things went well. Pablo had been smart enough to stuff a sports gel sacthet in his bathers just in case.

Minor panic attacks and pre-race nerves finally gave way to the event and all our practice and training was falling into place. Pablo had issues with his goggles throughout and we suspected that the sunscreen he applied to his face meant his goggles weren’t sealing as well as usual. He got lost a few times and had to clear the fog out of his goggles regularly. Friedo marked each lap with a count down (only three laps to go!). Pat just soldiered on setting an excellent time and finishing only 53 second over the required time for the Champions of the Channel. We’re still trying to convince him to apply.

The finish of the race was a bit of an anti-climax and we had some complaints about the events organisation (like receiving a bottle of hot water at completion) but nothing can take away from the fact that all three of us completed the 10 kilometres in under three hours.

Rottnest Channel Training, Victorian State OWS Champship results

Now the trick is to maintain fitness and keep up the regular training over the Christmas and summer holiday period!

What about you?

We’d be interested to hear how you’ve been preparing for your big swims. Leave a comment in the comments section below.

Here’s how you can help…

Would you like to support our Rottnest Channel Training efforts?

We’re raising money for Autism Spectrum Australia (Aspect). Aspect provides people with autism the opportunity to realise their unique potential, as well as providing much needed support to their families, carers, friends and colleagues.

Click on the image below to donate to our fundraising campaign or share this post on social media.

Rottnest Channel Training, Swimfari Duo Donate Banner

Leave a Reply