Over the weekend I had an experience I will never forget and something that I have wanted to partake in for many years now. The Karma 2017 Rottnest Channel Swim was an incredible event. With approximately 2300 swimmers from different walks of life, all making the crossing of 19 and something kilometres between the iconic Cottesloe beach and Thompson Bay Rottnest. Having been my first crossing I had no idea what to expect, so I figured the best way of remembering and capturing the experience was to take notes throughout the day…. Here is the Rottnest Diaries:
Saturday 25th February 2017
Alarm goes off, immediate thought is to click snooze.
Second alarm goes off, this time I swing the legs out of bed and think to myself whilst hunched over on the edge of the bed – ‘am I really doing this?’
Kettle is boiling, espresso machine is heating up and the speedo’s are in-situ. I apply the race tattoo number and feel proud to represent team 597.
My three poached eggs went down an absolute treat, and I am wondering when my next proper meal will be? Or could this be the last meal I ever have? Time to brush the teeth, get my official cap and fresh pair of goggles, purchased the day before (never too late to get organised), and head down to Cottesloe to meet my paddler.
Arriving at Cottesloe beach with anticipation and slight anxiousness for the day ahead. The first 1500m will be a good challenge and gauge of how the rest of the day will pan out (see 7:20am ahead for more). I meet my paddler who is also a first time attendee and we both talk tactics… mostly about where we are staying that night and how we are going to get home tomorrow
Walking to the start line, my paddler has left the shoreline and I am left to my own devices – just me, my trusty goggles (yet to get a test-run) and my own thoughts… ‘is it too late to pull out?’….. ‘I think I can see Rottnest already, maybe this isn’t going to take as long as I thought after all (see 11am entry)’…. ‘I’m getting hungry again’
The gun goes off and we are underway… Entering into the water I feel somewhat relief that all the external factors are behind me and it is now just a case of swimming. One stroke, one arm at a time for as long as it takes.
My loyal paddler Matthew pulls up alongside me after the 500me mark. I ask him “am I coming last?” his reply was somewhat confidence boosting “Nah son, you are going well – full steam ahead!” I couldn’t help but think he was lying to me and was just trying to stay positive because we had 19km to go…. The ongoing mental battle had begun.
I knew the first 1500 metres would be a good gauge… its going to be a long day. Arrival at the Leeuwin boat and have officially met with my boat and support crew for the day.
Swimming is fun, I am really enjoying this day! Should be there in no time at all. Morale is high!
This is definitely going to take as long as I had thought, if not more… damn these strong ocean currents!!! Morale is low, and slipping lower.
We begin to start looking for markers to see how far there is to go. It is difficult to see with so many boats, paddlers and swimmers around. We continue to grind and take our mind off things – ‘I spy with my little eye, something beginning with B….. Boat!!!’
Big seal pops up next to us about 20 metres away… you know what they say when there are seals around :/ with still 6 kilometres to go there was plenty of time for a big fish to mistake us for a seal.
Hoping to have touched base in Rottnest around this time, even though we hadn’t got there yet, I can see the funnelling of boats, paddlers and swimmers towards the mainland. Morale is back high again!
The boat has arrived at the final marker of its journey, whilst this is very exciting knowing how close we are to completing our voyage, it is also the beginning of the final kilometre of which we all jump in and swim together.
Feet touch down onto the sand for the first time since Cottesloe beach. As I walk over the finish line, greeted by a choc milk and banana, I still feel as if I am on the boat and the world is rocking around me… no doubt a celebratory beer will fix this!
That celebratory beer kick started a night of many celebratory beers, and we are now at the Rottnest Pub enjoying the sounds of the live band but looking forward to the DJ coming on and getting the dancefloor pumping.
6:00pm Sunday (the following day)
Wondering to myself - will I ever do that again. Initial thought is no...but seeing other people's satisfaction from doing duo's and solo's tempts me...to be continued...
All this, and I only did it in a group of 4… and gained a huge amount of respect for those that went in duo's and especially solo. Cheers to everyone who put together the Rottnest Swim, all the sponsors and organisation that goes into it. Most importantly to my team who were epic all day and my support crew.
The Karma Rottnest Channel Swim was an incredible experience and one that I will never forget. Bring on a Duo crossing next…. Maybe.
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