I did this swim race back in 2017 as a qualifier for the Rottnest Channel. It was a rough swim but I survived. This time, it was worse, rougher and I was very glad that I wasn’t doing the 10k this time!The course is 2.5k loops, same course each time. This event was supposed to be in December but they had to postpone it as the water quality was bad after a lot of rain. This worked in my favour as I was able to do it. I hadn’t done any training in December to be able to attempt a 5km swim. My mum was also doing the same race. I love sharing races with her.

I flew back from Iceland on Tuesday night so was still feeling jet lagged on Saturday morning. I woke at 1am and couldn’t get back to sleep. This also coincided with The Rich Roll Podcast dropping. I was feeling pretty excited so that didn’t help my brain calm down to sleep.

Eventually it was actually time to get up and get going. When we got down to the beach, the water was calm and inviting. It looked amazing. I have done this swim a few times and every time the water was rough, but it looked like that the curse was going to be broken and it would be really good conditions.

I ran into a friend who said that there was a change coming in the weather – it had just hit Geelong and was coming towards us. By the time we got into the water, it had started to become lumpy and rough and it got worse from there.

The 10k and 5k swimmers all started together, the men first then women a short time after. The start was rough but the group split really quickly. I started out way too hard. I slowed up and realised that 5k is still 5k and I can’t sprint that distance. I got confused at the first buoy and tried to turn, thankfully I could see some swimmers further ahead and corrected my course – whoops! I realised that it was going to be a long day.

The course goes in a bit of a rectangle. After I turned at the second buoy (where I was supposed to go!), I started pushing into the current. The buoys on the shore seemed to be reasonably easy to sight but it wasn’t so good once I was out there and it took a bit of time to figure out where I needed to go. Also, my lack of ability to swim in a straight line didn’t help.

When I started swimming, ,y goggles started leaking very quickly and irritating my left eye. I tried to swim with one eye shut but I figured that it would be better to just stop and empty them as they were also fogging up.

There was a decent amount of water safety people out, which was quite helpful when I couldn’t see the buoys and had to ask where I had to go. This was especially helpful on the second lap.

Towards the end of the first lap, the current was behind me and I was able to zoom back. It was great! We had a timing system where we could feel like we were in a proper race and hit the timing flotation thing that was also the finish line. We had timing chips on our wrists so we didn’t have to kick our legs up as we went through.

Second lap was rough. The roughest water I have done a swim race in. I had to try to sight at the top of waves and even then, I sometimes couldn’t see the buoy. I had to laugh when I saw my swim data, there is a random little right angle, which I’m sure is when the water safety people told me to go left, then shortly after told me to go right. Couldn’t do much but laugh about it.

I kept stopping to empty my goggles. I had to do this facing away from the waves as it was smashing into my face. I had this amazing woman swim up to me and suggest we swim the last part together. She didn’t have to do this and I think she thought I was in trouble and wanted to help out. I wasn’t trying to race for a time and it was lovely to have some company.

This woman was in bathers so I was a little faster in my wetsuit but with me stopping to clear my goggles and not swimming in a straight line, we weren’t too far apart. I thought I lost her at one stage but she appeared behind a wave so that was a relief.

We managed to get through the rough part, which by now I was actually enjoying (as I had realised I could choose how I react to this experience and I chose fun)…I was also very happy that I wasn’t swimming 10k!

I finally made it to the finish line and very relieved to finish. I was met by the nicest man in the world who congratulated me and everyone else who finished as they came up the beach and told us how amazing we were for doing the swim. It really gave me a glow!

I realised when I took my goggles off for the last time, the volunteers taking the timing chips off asked if I was okay. I realised that my eye was half closed and swollen. Clearly pushing my goggles onto my eye, which was already irritated by salt water wasn’t a great plan. And yes, time for new goggles.

Unfortunately, my official time wasn’t recorded but that doesn’t matter, it was fun and I finished it. My mum completed the swim as well and she felt really happy with her efforts of finishing, which is even better!

– Melissa Urie.