Meet our swimmers - 2016

Port to Pub swimmer profiles

#1: The Smoothy family

In the Port to Pub’s inaugural year, four members of the Smoothy family will take to the water.

Dad, Martin (55), middle son Samuel (17) and youngest daughter Esther (16) will be competing in the 25 kilometre event. Youngest son Luke (13) will be competing as a duo team with coach Claire Evans.

The Smoothy family’s love for swimming started due to health reasons. Martin wanted to increase his fitness following kidney failure and a heart condition.  Martin then took Samuel to the pool in an effort to help him get fit while recovering from cancer treatment involving steroids. Sam wasn’t the best at other sports however he was attracted to swimming as he found it was a sport he enjoyed. After missing out on a Rottnest Channel Swim duo ballot in 2014, Martin and Sam decided to train for a solo crossing, which they completed earlier this year. In another extraordinary feat, Martin and Sam swam the English Channel together in July this year.

Sister Esther competed in a team of four this year. Luke began competing in open water events after watching his brother Sam enjoy swimming competitively.

The Smoothy family all train in Shelley Taylor Smith’s squad.

We wish all the Smoothys the best of luck in the Port to Pub swim!

The Smoothy family.

 

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#2 The Over-Armers

Team members: Hamish McIntosh, Nick Unmack, Cameron McIntosh, Karri Steele, Stuart McIntosh and Jodie McIntosh

The Over-Armers’ team instigator is Hamish, who completed solo Rottnest Channel Swim crossings in 2014 and 2015. When he saw the option to register a team of six in the Hotel Rottnest Port to Pub, he saw this as a great opportunity to get his family involved in a fun yet challenging event.  Hamish’s brothers, Cameron and Stuart, were keen to be involved, having all competed in channel crossings before. They convinced Hamish’s partner Karri, and Stuart’s wife Jodie to take part, and then enlisted good mate, Nick Unmack, to complete the team of six! Nick is also a past Rottnest solo swimmer.

Jodie and Karri say they are the least experienced swimmers in the team. “We are totally out of our comfort zone, but are rising to this challenge!” They are following the swimming program put together by Port to Pub’s swim coach Ceinwen Roberts http://porttopub.com.au/p/preparation-and-training, which they’re finding to be a realistic and achievable training schedule.

The Over-Armers say the best part about being in a team of six means that the stronger swimmers can support the weaker swimmers, yet everyone gets a turn at some long distance swimming.  

“Our aim for the Hotel Rottnest Port to Pub event is to have fun and get to Rottnest Island as quickly as possible! We’re praying for calm waters with a slight easterly wind to provide that extra nudge across!”

Happy training and good luck Over-Armers!

Five of the six members of the 'Over-Armers' team.

 

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#3 Legends of Lane 4

Team members: Lindsay Dodd, Chris MacKinnon, Gus Firth and Andrew McLean

The Legends of Lane 4 will take on the 20km event as a team of four in the inaugural Hotel Rottnest Port to Pub swim in 2016. They say they're looking forward to the chance to compete as a team, after a long period of training together in Paul Newsome’s Swim Smooth squad.

Given the different combinations for the Rottnest Channel Swim, the team are excited at the opportunity to swim to Rottnest together in the Port to Pub after so much training together. And it's also given them an excuse to prolong their regular Friday morning coffee after training where healthy banter is enjoyed over long macs and brekky wraps.

Lindsay and Gus completed solo Rottnest Channel Swim crossings in 2015. Lindsay will be attempting the solo again in 2016, while Gus is joining forces with a friend to take on the duo. Chris and Andrew will also be crossing as a duo.

As for their swimming credentials, Andrew was a 'swimmer' at school but then did little in the water over the next 15 years. On returning to Perth in 2014 after a stint overseas, he rediscovered his love of the sport and has been training regularly again for the last 18 months.

After a hiatus of similar length, Lindsay got back into pool swimming in 2013. “Claremont Pool was the scene of my greatest swimming triumph, the 1992 Swanbourne Primary School 100 metres!," he boasts.

"Claremont Pool hasn’t changed much since then, and neither has my love of the swim.  I enjoy the fitness and camaraderie that come with squad swimming, but mostly I’m in it for the Friday coffee and bacon brekky wrap!”

Gus was an accomplished swimmer at school and, after a long time out of the pool, is once again a keen swimmer all year round. The Port to Pub will be his 7th crossing of the Rottnest Channel. Since hurting his back playing football, Chris has discovered a passion for swimming, especially with mates.  

Good luck Legends of Lane 4!

The Legends of Lane 4

 

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#4 Team Legs Eleven

Team Legs Eleven is likely to be one of the more remarkable teams in the Hotel Rottnest Port to Pub swim this year.

The instigator and main driver of the six-man team is Garry Lymn. Garry recently had to have his left leg amputated above the knee and, to prove he's kept his good sense of humour, decided to name his team ‘Legs Eleven’. A keen swimmer for over four decades, Garry was back in the pool training just two months after surgery and is determined to successfully lead his team across the Channel to Rottnest Island.

Garry says his main task is to work out how to coordinate his changeovers on the boat but, with the promise of a few celebratory ales at the Quokka Arms at the end of the swim, he’s determined to work it out and get it right.

It’s something of an historic swim for ‘Legs Eleven’ with four of the six members of the team successfully completing a Rottnest Channel Swim together 20 years ago in 1996.

Whilst they joked about ‘getting the gang back together’ for a 20 year anniversary swim, they thought it probably wouldn’t happen given they are not quite as fit and able bodied as they were back in 1996!

The launch of the Hotel Rottnest Port to Pub swim offered them the opportunity for a six-member team, which they decided would make the crossing more achievable. Team ‘Legs Eleven’ was formed and was one of the first teams to register in the inaugural Hotel Rottnest Port to Pub swim.

The team has begun serious training and four members of the team have already completed their qualifying swim, including Garry.

Garry, you’re an inspiration to all, and especially to your team. Good luck Legs Eleven!

Richard Mazzachelli, Russel (Chook) Fowler, Gwyn Williams, Garry Lymn and Kim Bingham. Missing from the picture is Steve Cockman.

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#5 Aqua Commandos

Team members: Gemma Banfield, Kath Warden, Janelle Rock, Bianca Edwards, Jacqui MacGeorge, and Tam Gibbons

The six members of the Aqua Commando’s team say they’re very excited to be taking part in the Port to Pub’s inaugural year.

They first came together participating in a weekly personal training group through Positive Lifestyle Training, run by Ceinwen Roberts and her husband Andy. When they started three years ago it was a group of 8 – this has now grown to 20!

All dedicated mothers and with 18 kids between them (yes 18!!), they have come a long way since the early days of pushing themselves to get into the ocean for a rare open water training session.

Gemma is the team leader; the reason the group came together in the first place. Always positive and a jet in the water, she has completed both a duo and a team of four in the Channel Crossing. Her 12-year-old son is now blitzing her in the pool, which she says keeps her on her toes.

Kath is the gun of the team! Frustratingly fast, both in and out of the water, even with little or no training. This is her first crossing, and the team are pumped that she is on their side so they can get there a little faster.

Janelle will be coming off a solo swim to Rottnest in the Channel swim. She is determined, ever reliable and, thankfully, as fit as a Mallee Bull. “I’ve just bought a new car, so now I need the number plates,” she said.

Bianca declares that she is possibly more suited to the land, having trained and completed marathons over the years. With her persistence, dedication and a little help from those long arms she has continued to improve no end, taking out the ‘Aqua Butts’ award this year.

Jacqui has become more of a Yoga Queen in the last six months, but continues to maintain her condition in the pool. Always making the group laugh, she would much prefer to take up water walking, but the team won’t let her.

Tam grew up in the middle of nowhere, hence didn’t learn how to swim until three years ago, blowing bubbles at the end of the pool with Ceinwen. “Swimming has changed my life for the better in so many ways, and I hope we will all still be swimming together when we are 80,” she said.

Together, the team are bonded by their love of exercise, the thrill of a challenge, being mothers, great conversations and French champagne.

Best of luck to the Aqua Commandos!

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#6 Stephen O'Keefe

Stephen O’Keefe started squad swimming in 1964 when he and his three sisters turned up at Beatty Park to start swim training. Back then, Beatty Park was the first public pool in Perth post the 1962 Empire & Commonwealth Games.

Stephen went on to win a state title and regularly participated in many Swim Thru events, mainly through the river based swimming clubs – the only swimming venues prior to the opening of public swimming pools.

Stephen then progressed from a pool swimmer to surf lifesaving. He became a life time member of the City of Perth Surf Life Saving Club in 1971 and competed at national championships throughout Australia – many of which he used to drive many thousands of kilometres to attend!

While attending the University of WA, Stephen was introduced to water polo, competing regularly in the intervarsity competition in places such as Townsville. He recalls driving a bus with his team mates for the 10,000km round trip as quite an adventure to say the least.

Stephen is also a life member and the foundation President of the City Beach Water Polo Club - now the largest and most competitive club in Australia. He still plays the game with a group of colleagues who have competed at the FINA World Water Polo Championships in locations such as Riccione Italy, Boros Sweden and Montreal Canada.

Recently he has turned his attention to the Rottnest Channel. He first started swimming to Rottnest 20 years ago and he has since completed over 20 team swims to the island. This year will be his first and only solo swim – one he figured needed to be done soon.

With swimming remaining a huge part of his life, Stephen still trains 5 – 6 times a week with the Tanham Squad and WGARA squad. Together they make up an eclectic group of both young and experienced swimmers, breakfast debaters and friends.

Good luck for your first solo crossing Stephen!

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#7 Les' 1956 Team

Les Stewart (80)

Les began swimming at a very early age with the beaches of Leighton, Swanbourne and the Mosman Park river just on his doorstep.

He joined Belmont Swimming Club as an 18 year old and competed in many river swims and at competitions at the Crawley Baths. The blue ribbon event at that time was the 4.4km Swim Through Perth.

On 24 January 1956, Gerd von Dincklage-Schulenberg became the first person to swim solo across the Rottnest Channel. The local paper, The Weekend News, challenged anyone interested to follow in his ‘steps’ and take on a race to Rottnest Island. 

Around 30 people entered but only those who could swim from Fremantle to Perth were allowed to compete.  The qualifying event was held a week before the official Rottnest event, with nine swimmers finishing. On March 25 1956 seven swimmers started the Rottnest swim with only 4 finishing – Les was one of these brave people. 

“I entered to see how far I could go and was pleasantly surprised to find I could actually make the distance!” he said.

Les went on to compete in a number of other open water events as the sport grew, including a number of 8km swims. He also participated in the Cocos Island 8km solo and Masters competitions in Alice Springs and on the Gold Coast.

In 2006 he was a member of the Barracudas English Channel six-man relay team which went on to be the oldest relay team in the world – a record they held for six years.  He was also chosen to be a part of the Australian Masters All Sports Team of the Year. 

Les has completed five solo Rottnest Channel crossings in his career, the last in 2007 starting at Leighton Beach at the tender age of 71.

Michael Stewart (51yo)

Michael first became involved in swimming competitively as a junior, before taking a break and joining West Coast Masters swimming club in 1988.

He’s competed in masters competitions both locally and interstate in Alice Springs and the Gold Coast, and was also a member of the team competing in the World Masters in Torino, Italy.

With many years of experience as a swimmer, skipper and paddler for the Rottnest Channel swim, Michael has completed three solo crossings and several duo and team crossings. His last solo Rottnest swim was topped off by completing solo in the Dunsborough to Busselton swim the following weekend.

“Along with the fitness gained from swimming, there have been many good friendships formed along the way,” he said.

“I find that long swims can be very relaxing. Being in the water can block out other distractions and it often makes a solution to a problem seem very clear.”

Sue Oldham (70yo)

Les Stewart introduced Sue to swimming in 1991 at the age of 48 when she joined the West Coast Masters Swimming Club.  At that stage Sue could not swim more than 25 metres without tiring.

Since this time, Sue has completed 8 solo Rottnest crossings, 2 duos with Les, and numerous team crossings. In 2006 she became the oldest woman in the world to swim the English Channel and was a member of the six-man relay team which also held the age bracket world record for 6 years. The same relay team went on to win the 2006 Australian Sports Award Masters Team of the Year.

Sue completed another solo English Channel crossing in 2010, regaining her title having lost it in 2007 to an English swimmer. In 2014 she was a member of an English Channel 4-man relay team which included Roger Allsopp (who was the oldest man in the world to swim at that time), Irishman Tom McCarthy who did breaststroke on all his rotations, and Kathy Phillips from the local Barracudas Swim Club. 

Sue has set her horizons on another English Channel solo crossing in 2017 having failed in 2014 due to weather. 

“Once I start, I find it difficult to stop swimming as I love the feeling of serenity swimming gives me. It’s also a wonderful contributor to good health and the friendship and camaraderie within the swimming fraternity, both local, interstate & worldwide, is fantastic,” she said. 

Andrew Stevens (60 yo)

Andrew was 52 when he started swimming, recently emigrating from South Africa.

“When I arrived down at Mullaloo beach, Les was one of the first people I met with his friendly face, big grin and a mischievous look in his eyes,” he said.

“Les has been an enormous inspiration to me over the years and a source of great encouragement and humour. He has also become a good friend.”

Andrew has completed three solo Rottnest Channel crossings. He has also completed the 8km solo swim from Coin de Mire Island to Grand Baie on the mainland of Mauritius.

“I have future plans to do many more medium distance Open Water swims combining it with travel,” he said.

“The benefits that I have received from Open Water Swimming are many – lower blood pressure, weight loss management, better sleeping and eating and a great feeling when the endorphins kick in. We mustn’t forget the important cup of coffee and the chat with friends after our daily swims.”

“It is indeed a great pleasure to be involved with Les on his 60 year commemorative swim.”

“Associating with people such as Les and Sue and the enthusiasm they share gives credence to the words, Impossible, Improbable, Inevitable.”

Debbie Hart (54 yo)

Debbie is an elite swimmer, having been a part of the GB International Swim Squad from 1975 to 1978. She has also won silver medals in the 50m Butterfly and 100m Butterfly at the 2014 FINA World Masters in Italy.

After retiring from competitive swimming, Debbie opened up a Swim School in London in 1980. It is still running today with over 500 children attending and 300 on the waiting list.

Since moving to Perth Debbie has opened up a very small Swim School at the Kinsgway Goodlife Health Club.

“I love to completely switch off and almost meditate while swimming,” she said.

“It's great for my well-being, flexibility and general fitness. And a fantastic way to start your day!”

Chloe Hart (24 yo)

Chloe is a seasoned swimmer, having represented her school in the English School Games in 2004, the British Swimming World Class in 2005, and the World School Games in Athens in 2006.

Chloe has also represented Great Britain in the European Youth Olympics in Italy, ranking first place in the 4x2 freestyle relay team.

“I like swimming because it gives me a feeling of peace and relaxation. I love going into the zone and I love the feeling of giving it my all and achieving goals that I set myself,” she said.

Chloe now teaches early childhood education at the Pearsal school in Perth.

 

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#8 Champagne Cruisers

With an engineer, psychologist, journalist, stylist, pharmacist and 17 children between them, the Champagne Cruisers have nothing to prove!

The team have a cross-section of swimming experience in their team, and say they're looking forward to working together to complete the inaugural Port to Pub crossing.

"With the more experienced ocean swimmers in our team we will be able to overcome nerves and share in the excitement of achieving a goal," said Monica, the journalist in the team.

"Scheduling and juggling our busy lives in order to do early morning training, and training in all kinds of conditions to prepare ourselves fully for whatever challenges occur on the day has been our focus up to this point." 

"Now we are just looking forward to enjoying the day together, supporting each other, crossing the finish line together and…  drinking some well-deserved bubbly of course!"

Good luck ladies!