Well I can now confirm that its officially happening. This Saturday 7 March I will attempt to be the 8th person to swim across Port Phillip Bay, the 3rd without the use of a shark cage. Ironically its a more exclusive swim than the English Channel which has had over 1,200 successful solo crossings.
Based on all available information, the seven swimmers that have gone before me are:
|1||Linda McGill||1968||12 hours 54 minutes||Shark cage|
|2||Michael Kennedy||1968||16 hours 28 minutes||Shark cage|
|4||John Van Wisse||1993||9 hours 13 minutes||Shark cage|
|5||Tammy Van Wisse||1993||9 hours 13 minutes||Shark cage|
|6||Mike Gregory||2013||16 hours 20 minutes||No shark cage|
|7||Andrew Vidler||2013||16 hours 20 minutes||No shark cage|
The swim is roughly the equivalent of the English Channel in terms of distance (35km in a straight line) although the water is significantly warmer (21 degrees at the moment as opposed to 16-18 degrees in the English Channel during summer) and the currents are much weaker. Despite this, previous attempts have reported strong currents, jellyfish, and weather as the major obstacles as well as the sheer physical challenge of the distance and time spent in the water. Legendary swimmer Des Renford attempted the swim and failed so I am under no illusions about the enormity of the challenge ahead.
I will be leaving Indented Head just before high tide (around 4am) and swimming to Frankston, hopefully with the help of an outgoing tide at the start and an incoming tide at the end. Current weather forecast is 24 degrees with a light westerly breeze behind me. We are staying the night in Portarlington so as we can eliminate the travel time in the morning and get the maximum amount of sleep.
Massive thanks need to go out to a number of people:
- to the three absolute legends who will be supporting me throughout the swim and have given up the start of their long weekend – Steve Lennox, Andrew Gellie and Amanda Jacob. I couldn’t have hoped for a better team!
- to my great mate Rohan Veal for the use of his boat – you made this whole thing possible.
- Thea Erasmus for encouraging me to go ahead with the swim after the devastating events of 22 February 2015.
- to my coaches Nic Campbell and Chloe McCardel for all their advice and guidance. Hopefully I can turn the plan into action!
- to “Choose Tap” for supporting the swim and raising awareness about how good the tap water we take for granted in Melbourne really is.
I’m excited and nervous at the same time. I know that when the going gets tough, the memory of Charles will motivate me to keep going and that the only thing that will stop me completing this will be some form of medical emergency (I was actually planning on asking him to be in my support crew on the day he passed away so this swim now has special meaning for me). I will also be looking forward to greeting family and friends at the finish line. With any luck, I can snatch the record off Mike and Andrew for a non-wetsuit, no shark cage crossing!
My support crew will be posting updates to my Facebook page throughout the swim and for anyone with a disregard for their own safety, you are welcome to meet me on the beach at Frankston (to the left side of the main pier). We are roughly expecting to finish around 2pm but keep an eye on Facebook for a more accurate estimate on the day.