Los Angeles Triathlon Club
Race Report
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Club Member: Elizabeth Bowen
Race: Rottnest Channel Swim
Distance: Other
Article URL: http://www.watoday.com.au/photogallery/sport/watoday-rottnest-channel-swim-2009/20090221-8e02.html
Race Date: 02/21/09
Submit Date: 02/22/09

Rottnest Channel Swim

*The swim is the biggest open water race in the world

*2300 swimmers

*1000 paddlers

*750 skippers

*5500 crew

*1000 spectator craft

And now to the nitty gritty:

comments overheard from finishing participants:
"IT WAS THE WORST SWIM ever..."
"IT WAS THE WORST DAY OF MY ENTIRE LIFE..."

completely unexpected results reigned over some of the seasoned endurance swimmers who participated in this
(ghastlly) 19.2km race across the Indian Ocean - from Cottlesloe Beach to Rottnest Island in Western Australia.

What started as a picture perfect day - masked the calm before the "endurance" storm...

"It was hot and humid on the beach (high of 35C/100F) even before the sun came up as the swimmers covered themselves in protective creams and warmed up for the 19.2km race.

Rottnest Channel Swim Association president Shelley Hatton said the flat conditions for the start of race would be easier on swimmers and crew this year. (HA!)

Thousands of spectators packed Cottesloe Beach vantage points on the balmy morning.

Competitors felt nervous but were confident."

Indeed, I was lucky to spot my swimmer straight off the bat just after the swim start -
as I had arrived via boat -and then paddled (pedaled) in my kayak over to the 100's of
swimmers, hoping to spot Selwyn so that he wouldn't have to stop and wait for me.

Luckily, he conceived of the idea of painting his arms in DAY-GLO ZINC colored stripes -
and I just happened to paddle over at the right time to catch sight of him amongst the -
other 100's of kayakers, boats, swimmers (LITERALLY - ) Imagine Grand Central Station
on the ocean - and you might have an idea! As far as the eye could see -- water crafts everywhere -
from yachts, sail boats, rinky dink rubber boats with motors...!
And there were all sorts of identifying markers on boats - so that swimmers could locate their
crafts -- flags, balloons, costumes, music, etc. I saw a blow up doll and a kangaroo attached to a kayak -
I saw kayaks pulling balloon sharks, ducks, etc., I saw people wearing those things baby's wear in the water around their arms...
What a sight!

SO, Selwyn predicted what with the compliant weather and cooperative weather and ocean conditions,
a nice finish time of approximately 7 hours. Sounded good to me - not too long out there -
and then to the pub.

WELL - things did not turn out quite so well -
YES, the weather was really nice, as were the ocean conditions -
but 2 things occurred that were not anticipated...

1) there was an incredibly strong current pulling to the south - as swimmers needed to swim to the north
end of the island,
(which caused season veterans of the event to log their longest times in the water
and to the utter the above quotes...) AND

2) Selwyn has a propensity towards being sea sick when he swims (although not whilst he is on a boat, what's up with that????)
and it showed up after about 3.5 hours into the swim - which, by the way, by that time he had already passed the halfway marker and
was well on track to make his predicted 7 hour swim time.

And he'd just successfully completed the 8.5 hour Manhattan Marathon Island Swim (28.5 mi), and 2 Rotto swims last year -
without any seasickness.

Selwyn takes a very heavy duty drug for his seasickenss, Zofrin - it is prescribed to patients undergoing chemo treatments.
The Zofrin was successful in preventing any vomiting, but not in quelling the sour stomach and desire to actually upchuck
whatever was causing the gastro distress. (He believes it was the ingesting of a sports gel at the 3 hour feeding mark, which did him in.)

Anyway, this caused him to be unable to "feed" or replenish electrolytes and precious nutrients to keep the body energized.
The only thing he could ingest was small sips of water, followed by lots of hacking, coughing, sputtering, etc.
All of this stopping and starting activity caused his swimming times to slow. Of course, there was never any doubt that he would finish -
Selwyn is the kind of guy who would not stop a swim unless he was close to being unconscious. He'd previously completed
this same swim by heaving his guts out over the entire crossing - so, no matter what, he was going to finish.

Eventually he began to make progress across the ocean... he'd have to stop several times an hour, but he struggled onward.
After a couple of hours into the second half of the swim, he was "swimming on empty" but still pulled it out to
finish and even pass 3 swimmers in his finishing sprint. He was shocked to hear his time of 10:18 - but he had finished
his FIFTH Rottnest Channel Swim!!!

Meanwhile, back at the ranch (on the kayak) of Lizzy B - who's inexperience had recently caused her to overturn her craft
whilst trying to land on the beach, went slowly out of her mind.

I had no idea that that much time had passed -
10 hours????? I must had have heat stroke...
I had one break after the first 2 hours -
but for some reason I kept thinking Selwyn was going to be finishing very soon...

I could barely stand when I got out of the kayak -
my thighs were literally shaking -
"jelly legs" due to paddling for the past 10 hours -
now, you may know I have the kind of kayak that one PEDALS - so it's all LEG - all QUADS - all the time.

It was HOT, I was dehydrated -
we had brought a case of water with us -
but had run dry due to the unexpected length of the swim -
Luckily, I was wearing sufficient SPF clothing to prevent any sunburn -
but I felt as though I had completed an endurance event of my own...
half-IRONMAN, here I come - HA!

What a big day!
Next weekend we are heading down to Busselton for the
Geo-Bay Swim - another nice 20k, although this route follows
the shore - seasickness hopefully will NOT be an issue.

And just before I visit LA - there's the BIG SPLASH -
and another opportunity to swim across the Indian Ocean to Rottnest - and BACK!
Selwyn's goal is to complete a double crossing -
(you'll find me in the med tent, hooked up to the iv's...)

Nothing like training to swim a DOUBLE English Channel crossing...

Enjoy the pix.

Thanks for all of your good wishes and support!

Best,
LizzyB


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