© Tony Hewitt

#8 Team of six: "The Dirty Half Dozen" Kath Warden, Anna Bartlett, Michelle Smith, Sarah Rose, Cathy Muir, Lucy Curnow

We are the Dirty Half Dozen. Some of the more questionable swimming talent out of (swim coach) Ceinwen Roberts’ stable, we are six mothers to eighteen children united in our quest to reach Rottnest so we can get a Port to Pub cap & look hardcore.

Our team is comprised of our captain, the amphibious Kath 'the torpedo' Warden who is as blisteringly fast on water as she is on land, our imported talent Sarah 'ote & abote' Rose who rides like a Mounty & swims like an Aussie, team pharmacist Anna 'keeping the people of Rockingham smiling one prescription at a time' Bartlett, couples swimming safari aspirant Cath 'should we swim a little deeper so we don't keep beaching ourselves' Muir, interior designer in-residence Michelle 'shark shield' Smith (anything she doesn't know about shark deterrent technology isn't worth knowing), who will do up our team boat in Dulux 'denim drift' between swim legs, and sixth member Lucy 'is there any KLF on your playlist because I can't butterfly to this' Curnow.

We are in the expert hands of skipper Moose '7 or 8 solos' Muir & paddler Doug 'Grant Kenny' Warden who will administer a poke with the oar to laggards. Two first time Port to Pub swimmers amongst us, we are really excited and a little bit nervous about the swim and can't wait to celebrate with everyone at the finish line

#7 Michael Berry - 25km ultra-marathon

The first swim I did was 4 years ago, I managed 1.2km in one hour and went home, exhausted, for a sleep. Then swimming became a way of life, it started to be two sessions a week then three... then came the open water swimming events. At first it was 2km and then a 4km swim... then a 5km first team event that I entered where we swam to Rotto. I kept going and we kept going, soon I had a squad of people that I could train with and share a coffee afterwards... then the Port to Pub came up and I thought why not?

The spring and summer became watching black lines, dodging stingers and getting sore. Last year it was 25km of grinding out. I can't wait to try it again and even though it is a struggle and it is hard it all puts it into perspective when you think about the reasons you do it. Angelhands is a charity that works to support victims of violence, domestic violence and traumatic events. It gives hope and works on reconnecting individuals.

#6 Team of 4: Peter Woods, Emma Richards, Kate Hardcastle and Tim Macpherson | Team name: Hootie and the Boatfish

We are a group of old friends (and family) who have been involved in the waters around Rottnest and Fremantle for quite some time. A couple of us swam the Port to Pub last year in different groups and post-race had a chat about the 2017 event. Not too dissimilar to the Lebron, Wade and Bosh (‘Big 3’) move to the Miami Heat, we decided to form a super group. Enter ‘Hootie and the Boatfish’. For those not born until after 1987, Hootie and the Blowfish were a mediocre 1990s band who had some success with songs such as, ‘Let her Cry’ and another one which escapes us now...but we digress. Here is our team:

Peter ‘Perkins’ Woods has swum across the Channel several times in a team of 4 and in a duo. He is a keen squad member down at Swim Smooth in Claremont, a coconut oil advocate and lover of all things outdoors.

Emma ‘Rice’ Richards is a veteran of the open water swim scene. Having been living over in New York in recent years she will be in her element on race day and later on at the Hotel Rottnest.

Kate ‘Klim’ Hardcastle is a pretty big deal around the Perth social scenes. When she's not signing autographs, she is most likely working out. Fair to say health and fitness are big parts of Kate's life and whilst we’re not sure her swimming training program could be considered world class (or has actually begun yet?), come race day, she will eat the channel for breakfast.

Tim ‘Trickett’ Macpherson is also a member of the Swim Smooth squad down at Claremont pool. Having seen through many London winters, Tim has found a whole new appreciation for the WA coastline and will be in the thick of it come race day.

Good luck Hootie and the Boatfish!


#5 Solo: Hayley McInnes 

Swimming to Rottnest solo has always been on my bucket list. Having completed the swim in a team a number of times over the years, I was looking for the next challenge.  Since my last crossing I have had two children, so it certainly has been a challenge fitting in my training sessions. However, so far I am really enjoying being back in the water. I love feeling fit again, doing something for myself, and it has been a welcome and positive distraction allowing me to focus on something outside of the daily routine that comes with looking after a family.

I grew up in Perth but I am currently based in Avalon on the Northern Beaches of Sydney. When people ask what I’m training for they think I’m plain crazy. “You’re swimming to an island that’s 20km away in shark infested waters? You’re mad!” Admittedly there have been numerous occasions in the past six months where I have been consumed with self-doubt and questioned what I am doing, but I deal with this by not thinking too far ahead, focusing on completing the next training session one set at a time. There is a phenomenal outdoors culture in Sydney, much like Perth, and everyone loves to swim at the beach but, bizarrely, another challenge I have faced living up here is finding a 50m pool to train in. Other than ocean pools, which certainly have come in handy for my training, the closest pool is 20km away. As a result, I have been doing the majority of my training in a 25m pool. Counting the 320 laps for an 8km swim is somewhat mind numbing. Helping me through these gruelling training sessions enduring bluebottle stings, tiredness and sore shoulders, I know that not only am I doing it for the personal challenge but more importantly I’m raising money for the Children’s Cancer Institute of NSW. This is an independent medical research institute wholly dedicated to putting an end to childhood cancer.

Aside from the challenges (my fear of sharks is another one but I won’t talk about that…) this is an amazing part of the Australia and I am incredibly lucky to be able to swim in some of the best beaches in the world. I know, I know you can’t beat Perth beaches and I tend to agree. The white sand and turquoise water is unlike anywhere I’ve seen before and that’s why I can’t wait to get back there in March and be a part of this awesome event that is the Port to Pub!

# 4 Duo: Gwyn and Sian Williams | Team name: Bilbo and his Precious

Father and daughter duo Gwyn and Sian Williams - aka Bilbo and his Precious - are training hard in the lead up to the Port to Pub 2017 event. 

Swimming has long been a part of the Williams family. With all members having completed countless Rottnest channel crossings in some form or another over the years (solos, duos, teams and, most prestigious, as support crew), this is the first duo for Gwyn at the ripe age of 71.

Gwyn has a long history as a pool swimmer, beginning his career in Wales where he was selected as a team member for the British Empire and Commonwealth Games back in 1962. A shoulder injury prevented him from competing, but Gwyn still competes in both pool and open water swims. Gwyn is still competitive in his age group, and rarely misses an opportunity to swim across a bay or do some laps in the pool.

Sian was a competitive swimmer throughout her teens competing in, and winning medals in, national competitions. Whilst no longer an elite pool swimmer, Sian's competitive streak comes out to play each year for the Rottnest channel crossing. 

Sian was the overall 20km solo winner last year for the first ever Port to Pub event, and Gwyn was part of a team of 6, which finished first in their age group, so both swimmers are fairly competitive. I guess you could say swimming is in the Williams' family bloodstream!


#3.  Swimming365 Teams 1 and 2

Swimming from Leighton Beach to Rottnest Island is no mean feat. To get across the finish line, it takes months of dedicated preparation and training, a high level of strength and fitness, and luck with weather conditions on the day. But what if, on top of that, you had serious health considerations as well? Meet the two teams of six from Swimming365 – four of the swimmers have Type 2 diabetes. 

Swimming365 is an aquatic exercise program especially set up for the prevention and management of Type 2 Diabetes. The program is now in its third year and has been providing significant ongoing benefits to the health of about 50 participants.

Swimming365 founder and managing director Tom Picton-Warlow says the Port to Pub’s teams of six category has enabled the Swimming365 swimmers to challenge themselves to swim across the Rottnest Channel, with the reduced distance per swimmer plus the allowance of strong, non-diabetic swimmers to join each team.

Four Swimming365 swimmers look part in the inaugural event – Rae Foale, Colin Castensen, Don Scott, and Chari Pattiaratchi accompanied by Aidan Schubert and Sally Mauk, completing the swim in 6 hrs 36 mins. They had to pay attention to diet and health management during rigorous training sessions and, during the Port to Pub, had to experiment with changeover times to make sure everyone maintained stamina.

The sense of achievement was huge and this year, Swimming365 has entered two teams of six in the 2017 Port to Pub.

Swimming365 Team 1: Rae Foale, Don Scott, Tom Picton-Warlow, Sally Mauk, Dr. Sarah Cox.

Swimming365 Team 2:  Tim Monaghan, Dr. Katy Langdon, Dr. Simon Erickson, Jonica Grayling, Peter Michael & Tracey Monaghan

Tom says, “This year, we will be using innovative approaches to diet and nutrition as part of the preparation. We are excited to have seen some great results health-wise from the 2016 swim and hope to build on that.  Moreover, the sense of achievement for our swimmers was huge last year, and they’re excited to take on the next challenge.”  As Dr Katherine Langdon said of Swimming365 in Medical Forum W.A. – “Swimming365 is an innovative, sustainable and inclusive community based program offering professional expertise while providing a regular social forum … The main beneficiaries in this program are the participants.  There is no further translational step required to take the evidence base to the group who needs it most.”.

Tom is thrilled with the way Swimming365 is growing and developing and the important information it’s gathering in relation to the impact of an intense swimming regime on the health of Type 2 diabetics and those at risk.  

Tom is a previous Swimming Australia and Swimming WA board member. He wanted to see how the health benefits of swimming could be applied to non-communicable diseases like diabetes using high performance principles. Swimming365 formally started in early 2015.

The Swimming365 program provides professional water aerobics instruction and swimming lessons conducted by accredited exercise physiologists and instruction on advanced swimming technique by high performance swimming coaches. There are also presentations on diet and nutrition and morning teas provided per program to encourage positive overall health in all areas of life. The program is evidence-based and presents information about participant progress which provides important insight into their health and fitness. 

In addition to overseeing swimmer training – and his own – for the Port to Pub swim, Tom has recently set about expanding the program to Vanuatu and has just returned from his first mission. Port to Pub donated some of its leftover swim caps from the 2016 event, which were given to swimmers who will join the Swimming365 program. Vanuatu provides an excellent location for Swimming365 there are 83 islands surrounded by ocean that ranges from 22-28 degrees Celsius year round.  The Vanuatuan’s have a long tradition of engagement with the ocean, they also love singing, music and dancing which Swimming365 will be providing as part of a revamped aquatic program.  The Vanuatu Swimming365 program will be overseen by Nancy Miyake - Regional Development Officer at the Oceania Swimming Association which is the continental governing body recognised by FINA and conducted by Frank Vira from Wan Smolbag and the Vanuatu Aquatics Federation.

 The Port to Pub swim will become an annual challenge for Swimming365 participants and Tom hopes to see the number of teams entering the event grow each year!

#2. Duo: Caroline Dyer and Helen Wilson | Team name: Loose Lips Sink Ships

Sisters Caroline Dyer and Helen Wilson were the first to enter the 2017 Port to Pub. They had enjoyed the inaugural swim as members of a team of four and decided to challenge themselves to a duo.

They have both completed the gruelling 100km Oxfam Walk three times, but already feel that their duo swim is a much greater physical challenge. They’ve been training fairly seriously for two months, competing each weekend in the ocean open water swims on offer around WA.

Of course, you have to look the part when you’re in your bathers for the whole day – they’ve been busy looking at hundreds of different bathers to choose the ones that will help them swim fast and look stunning as they run through the finishing chute!

Caroline and Helen are members of Maida Vale Masters Swimming Club and whilst Helen lives near the beach and can swim in the ocean, most of Caroline’s training is achieved in an indoor heated 25 metre pool in the foothills. Both girls work as nurses and have to fit in swims around their rosters, so they are often up very early, either trail walking in the hills or swimming together at the beach.

Good luck Caroline and Helen!

#1. Aaron Ellis-Kerr

Pilbara-based Aaron Ellis-Kerr will compete in the Port to Pub as a solo swimmer in 2017. Training in a hot climate and in an isolated town has its challenges, but as Aaron is proving, it’s far from impossible. Here’s his story:

Work brought me to the Pilbara in 2010. I joined local football clubs in Newman and Port Hedland. Looking for ways to maintain my fitness during the football off-season, I decided to revisit swimming. Growing up in Perth, being involved in swimming clubs and surf clubs as a little tacker, I loved to swim; it had just been a while. Years, in fact.

In 2014, I organised a team to partake in the Virtual Rottnest Swim in Karratha. At that point, it was a couple of lads trying to keep fit during the off-season of football, swimming twice a week. This was the motivation I needed to get back swimming again. Since the Virtual Rottnest Swim, I have completed a Rottnest duo crossing and a Rottnest Solo crossing. I have also completed a number of WA Open Water Swim Series events.

This year I have yet again decided to take my swimming to the next level. I am currently training to complete the 8km solo Cocos Keeling Island Swim, held in November each year, and the solo Port to Pub in March 2017. Teaming up with Red FM's Breakfast Show I will doing the10km swim at Lake Argyle, in Kununurra in May 2017. The Breakfast Crew are planning on joining me in the event. This will be my first freshwater marathon swim.

Swimming in Port Hedland has presented some challenges. Some of my long swim sets are commonly swum in 45 degree heat, during the wet season. Cyclone events close the pool for extended periods. Each time, water samples are sent to Perth for testing; the process takes a minimum of a week to gain re-opening clearance. The most recent maintenance issues closed both pools in the town for three weeks. These have been ongoing over the year. Massive tidal movements make open water swimming extremely unsafe and therefore virtually impossible in Port Hedland.

To help me achieve my swimming goals I have sought the help of swim coach Ceinwen Roberts. Ceinwen sends me challenging daily swim training plans. My wife has also recently started swimming. Swimming with my wife makes it more enjoyable as we can train, meal plan and organise to take part in swimming events together. I am really glad that it is a hobby we are both thoroughly enjoying.

I am planning to continue my swimming and look forward to seeing where it takes me in the future.