Meet our swimmers 2021

Sea-Bee-Tea

Team of four Sea-Bee-Tee, led by Dr Katie Niven, is fundraising for headspace, which provides early intervention mental health services to 12–25-year-olds.
 
Headspace is the National Youth Mental Health Foundation and can help young people with mental health, physical health (including sexual health) alcohol and other drug services, and work and study support.
 
Dr Niven is an advanced psychiatry trainee in the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service, which offers support, advice and treatment to young people and their families experiencing mental health issues.
 
Dr Niven says, “COVID-19 has placed significant extra pressure on our mental health service, and many young people are seeking support. We know that early intervention is best and I wanted to use our swim to highlight some of the support services like headspace, and to raise awareness that these services are out there for anyone seeking support.”
 
The team, which also includes Psychiatry Registrar Dr Rachel Kovac, mental health nurse Chloe Blaauw and their friend, Daniella Antonucci.
 
The team name is a play on Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, or CBT, which is an effective and evidence-based therapeutic intervention for many mental health disorders including depression and anxiety.
 
The Sea-Bee-Tees have been training 3-4 times a week mostly in the pool and can’t wait for race day
 
To donate to headspace, please go to https://porttopub21.grassrootz.com/headspace

Swim for Shaun

Swim for Shaun

Childhood friends Jarrod Delavale and Ben Ford have faced all of life’s big challenges together. But nothing prepared them for the loss of their friend Shaun Murphy, who took his own life in 2020. Their tight-knit group of friends were shocked and overwhelmingly saddened. Out of their grief has come a desire to make a difference by raising awareness of men’s mental health.
 
Wanting to challenge themselves too, Jarrod and Ben are signed up to a Port to Pub duo and are using their swim to raise money for the Perth-based Kai Eardley Foundation, which provides support for Australians suffering mental health issues.
 
Jarrod said: “For me and Ben, going through this experience made us want to make a difference to ensure young men feel comfortable to be open with their emotions, to have someone to talk to and to realise they aren’t alone. We hope our Port to Pub swim helps us to help others, and we’ll be thinking of Shaun the whole way across to Rottnest. It will be an emotional day for us.”
 
To support Jarrod and Ben, please go to https://bit.ly/39T3Kib

Telethon Kids Challenge Team

We’ve been profiling beneficiaries of the money raised through Telethon, and how those funds help better the lives of sick, disabled and disadvantaged children in WA.

The Telethon Kids Institute (TKI) is based at the Perth Children’s Hospital, and is one of the largest, and most successful medical research institutes in Australia.

The TKI brings together community, researchers, practitioners, policy makers and funders to improve the health and wellbeing of WA kids.

TKI colleagues Nick Buckley, Adele Leahy, Emma Fuller, Mitch Hartman, Peter Gething and Tiffany Bradshaw are swimming in the Port to Pub as the Telethon Kids Challenge Team to increase awareness of the important child health research they do at TKI.

Port to Pub’s Jane Munday spoke to a few team members about their work and their upcoming race to Rottnest!

Nick Buckley: I’m a PhD student and Research officer in the Child Disability team at TKI. My research is in paediatric disability, and I’m developing an assessment tool to measure movement and position during sleep to ensure a better long-term quality of life for disabled kids.

I’ve done most of my swimming through involvement in triathlons. I have typically been more focused on the running and cycling side. Swimming was the toughest leg to start with, but now I really love it, and I’ve been putting extra open water training into my schedule to get ready for Port to Pub.

Our team participates in lots of events to raise awareness of the work we do at TKI. We are really looking forward to being a part of the Port to Pub – the big crowd of boats, and swimmers. It will be my first Rottnest crossing – the first of many, I hope!

Adele Leahy: I am Program Manager for the DETECT schools study. 79 schools are taking part in the study, which tests staff and students without COVID-19 symptoms to provide evidence about the level of asymptomatic infection in schools. We’re tracking transmission in schools and assessing wellbeing of staff, parents and students.

I was a competitive swimmer at school. I was a swimming teacher, coach and currently volunteer with Surf Life Saving WA. I’ve completed a half ironman and was sort of hoping to take a break from swimming but…! I do have a slight fear of open water and I want to overcome it. I can’t wait to look down at the bottom of the ocean whilst swimming my little heart out and thinking “I’m still alive!”

Peter Gething: I’m the Kerry Stokes Chair in Child Health at the Telethon Kids Institute.

I hadn’t done a lot of swimming before moving to WA in 2019 – but with the sunshine, great pools and of course the ocean on our doorstep, I’ve loved getting in the water more frequently and stepping up my fitness. Having an event like Port to Pub to work towards is great motivation for me to get in the ocean regularly and train.

I’m so proud to be doing this swim with my colleagues. Crossing the finish line at Rottnest with the rest of the Telethon Kids Team will be a great moment.

Emma Fuller: I am the Data Manager of the ORIGINS project, which aims to reduce the rising epidemic of non-communicable diseases through a healthy start to life.

I’ve been a pretty regular swimmer since uni days. I’m part of a local squad and love the comradery of the sport. I enjoy swimming for fitness but also downtime. I have to admit I have a terrible fear of open water and I’m trying to beat it one swim at a time.

Like Peter, I’m looking forward to crossing the line with my TKI colleagues, that will be an awesome feeling!

Mitch Hartman: I’m Executive Officer, Strategic Initiatives at TKI. It’s a great role that sees me work across the entire Institute supporting the delivery of innovative projects across research and our support services.

As a kid I was a competitive swimmer and then transitioning across to the Australian lifesaving team for a few years gives me a good base for this crossing. But the almost ten years with no swimming in between means I had a way to go to get ready for this swim.

I’m new to Perth, I love sport, and I’m quite competitive, so it was an easy “yes” when Pete (Gething) asked me to swim with the team

I’m hoping for clear conditions, no wind and minimal swell but most importantly a chance to experience a Rottnest crossing with a great group of colleagues and the rest of the Port to Pub fields, support crew and community.

Charlotte and Archie O’Beirne

Charlie and Bernie

Well known South West-based swimmer Charlotte O’Beirne can’t wait for this year’s Port to Pub. It’s going to be a very special event because she’s swimming with her 13-year-old son Archie.

Charlie is a former British pool swimming champion, and trialled for the UK Olympic team in the 100m backstroke in 1992.

After emigrating to Australia in 1999, she took to the ocean and embraced open water swimming. In 2013 she established the Swimming Women squad, and since that time has coached over 1200 local swimmers, who meet at a number of local South West WA beaches every day.

Her children have all grown up in Australia and Charlie is delighted middle son Archie also loves open water swimming. They regularly train together at beautiful Gnarabup Beach

Archie and Charlie will join two other South West swimmers from Charlie’s Swimming Women squad in a team of four for the Port to Pub on 20 March.

“This will be my 14th swim to Rotto and I’ve been coaching others to swim across for years, but to swim with one of my children is a dream come true. I can’t wait for Archie to experience the start line atmosphere, the long hours swimming and that pure joy of hitting the sand at Rottnest.

“I’m so proud of Archie and the Swimming Women team – I’m so looking forward to this event.”

Charlie said her next goal is to swim across to Rottnest with all three of her sons for her 50th birthday in 2026!

Good luck Charlie and Archie!

Georgia Ongarezos

Mental toughness tested as swimmer takes on dark and double crossings

Last month, Port to Pub 25km swimmer Georgia Ongarezos took on a very brave challenge – swimming a night time solo crossing from Rottnest to Perth to raise awareness of mental health.

Starting at Rottnest at 10:30pm, 18-year-old Georgia made the 19.7km swim in 5:56, with a group of fellow swimmers and supporters waiting on the beach at Cottesloe to greet her.

While in good form, just last week, she pushed herself she completed a ~40km double crossing to Rottnest and back in 12.5 hours with fellow swimmer Tim Edwards.

She spoke to Port to Pub’s Jane Munday about how she overcame the fear of swimming in pitch black darkness as and the mental strength needed for a double crossing

1. Why did you take on the challenge to swim in the dark?
Mental health is more prevalent today than it ever has been before. I went through a stage of depression mid-year and knew I had to get myself better or I would be stuck “in the darkness”. I was very aware of the reality of mental illness and counted 22 people I knew who were suffering mental illness. This swim was not only a goal to get me out of my depression but also to inspire those suffering that they can make it out of the darkness and into the light.


2. Training to swim a solo crossing is a big undertaking – what extra did you have to do to tackle swimming in the dark?
Luckily, I had a few solos under my belt before this swim, so I was no stranger to distance training. In the lead up to the swim I began going to Cottesloe beach at 4:30am and swimming in the shark net until sunrise to practise night swimming and get comfortable with being in the water with no light. From there, I’d go to the pool and do my normal training with the Positive Lifestyle squad.

3. How did you overcome mental and physical hurdles to get through it?
This swim quickly became a metaphor for my life at the time. Not only was I trying to inspire others that they could make it through the darkness, but also to prove to myself that I can do anything I put my mind to. Having this swim as a goal and having so much publicity with it meant quitting was not an option as I felt people were looking up to me for inspiration. Having routine, training, goals and surrounding myself with positive people really helped my mental health drastically! For me, it was all about being in nature surrounded by people who I love and who love me that got me through hurdles. Having a focus was key!

4. How much have you raised for Lifeline WA?
All together we raised just under $14 000!

5. Where will that money be used?
This money will go towards training volunteers who answer calls for help. Because of this year’s circumstances, there has been a drastic increase in calls for help. With a decrease of fundraising events, Lifeline was unable to take on more volunteers as it couldn’t fund the training. This swim has provided funds to Lifeline WA for at least 3 more volunteers, meaning more lives are being saved.

Georgia completed a double crossing of the Rottnest Channel in 12.5 hours.


6.    Your recent double crossing was a real test of mental and physical strength – did the night time crossing help with this feat or did they feel like two different swims?

The night time crossing definitely added an advantage to my mental and physical strength for the double. After completing the night swim, I felt like I could have turned back, which gave me so much confidence in my physical strength. They did feel like different swims however, as I was in a different headspace for the double. The double was tough, and I honestly put so much doubt in myself on the first lap. When we got to Rotto I wasn’t going to turn back. My coach Ceinwen Roberts gave me and Tim (Edwards) an incredible pep talk and we were hyped up to go back. I was lucky enough to share this crossing Tim. We train together and we did this swim as a team - this was a HUGE mental advantage! Both swims have made me grow so much as a person and for that I’m forever grateful!

7.    What do you do in marathon swims when you really need to dig deep to get you through?

These swims are long and they are tough. Every swim is different, but in every single one of my marathon swims there has been a moment where I have certainly had to dig deep. For me, my crew is such an important part to every swim. Whenever I’m in doubt, I look at my crew and take a moment of gratitude where I think how lucky I am to have them share this experience with me. From then my mindset shifts and I become more positive. I have also learnt to lean on my crew when I’m not feeling great and always have someone on crew as a support swimmer to help me get through the tough bits. It’s also important to put faith in your training and remember all of the tough sessions I did in preparation to get here. It's all-positive self-talk. 

8.    You have competed in our 25km ultra-marathon.  What do you love about that swim?

I did the 25km Port to Pub crossing in 2019 and honestly this swim is what sparked my obsession with ultra-marathon swimming. I loved the atmosphere of the event and how challenging it was. There is no better feeling than standing up on the white sand of Rotto and ringing that bell! If you’re contemplating doing the 25km swim…do it! If I can do it…so can you!

Congratulations Georgia!

Meet the Telethon Superfins Swim Squad

We are so proud to be supporting Telethon this year and the work it does to help WA’s sick, disabled and disadvantaged kids.

One of Telethon’s beneficiaries is the Superfins WA Swim Club’s Learn to Swim (LTS) program. The program was set up for school aged children with disabilities to learn to swim. The LTS program is held at Lords Recreation Centre in Subiaco and has been operating now for a decade!

Many of those children have gone on to join the Superfins Swim Club, which caters for swimmers at all levels, from beginner to advanced and competitive swimmers.

Keith Robinson, Michael Nguyen, James Burt, Kim-Heula Smith, Dylan Coop, Dylan Broadway, Mark Paull, Andrew Goldswain

The Stroke Development and Senior Squad groups train multiple times a week at HBF stadium and regularly ocean swim too.
There are currently about 70 Superfins swimmer across the two squads.

The Club has entered teams nearly every year of Port to Pub and will be back again in 2021 with a team featuring Kim-Heula Smith, Michael Nguyen, James Burt, Dylan Coop, Dylan Broadway and Mark Paull (Dad of Daniel, a Superfins member).

Front – Dylan Broadway, Next behind is Kim-Heula Smith. The next 3 in a row are (L to R): Andrew Goldswain, James Burt and Michael Nguyen. The next 2 in a line behind them are (L to R) Dylan Coop and Keith Robinson, at the back is Mark Paull.

Steve Robinson is the Superfins treasurer and Dad to club member, Keith. Keith has cerebral palsy and joined the Superfins three years ago.

“My son’s life has changed since joining Superfins. It’s about exercise, and camaraderie, with swimming as the focal point. Most of Keith’s friends are from Superfins and they do so much together socially too. Young people like Keith want a strong friendship group as well as sport and recreation, and Superfins enables all of that – it’s a remarkable club.”

We’d love you to take a moment watch Alice’s inspiring story. Alice has been swimming since she was 9 and it’s had a huge impact on her life. This heartwarming story shows us swimming is for everyone.

The Superfins are in need of a boat and skipper for their 2021 swim – if you can help, please contact Steve Robinson at lincolncapital@bigpond.com

You can donate to Telethon when you register, or use your swim to raise funds for Telethon

If you have another charity close to you heart you'd like to raise funds for, go to our Grassrootz fundraising platform and follow the prompts!