Swimmers in the Spotlight

2024 Swimmers

James Christensen

South Perth Sailor Braves the Waves in a Charitable 25km Ultramarathon

James Christensen, a 33-year-old Maritime officer and South Perth local, is set to take on the Port to Pub 25km Ultramarathon. Christensen is diving into this formidable challenge not just to test his personal limits but to support a cause close to his heart – the Pirate Ship Foundation, the current charity supported by his ship.

Christensen’s mission is to raise $5,000 for the foundation, which focuses on funding research into childhood brain cancer. This cause is especially significant to him, given his unique way of contributing to the charity in the past, including an event where he dressed as a pirate and made his Captain walk the plank after raising a substantial donation for the foundation.

Despite being a seasoned Mariner, Christensen has never undertaken a solo swim of this magnitude. His rigorous training regimen includes swimming 20-30km a week, with sessions divided between the City of Perth swim squad and ocean swims, either solo or with friends. To complement his swimming, he also dedicates two days a week to strength and conditioning at Formidable Strength and Conditioning.

Balancing an intense training schedule with his work duties presents a significant challenge. The unpredictable nature of his work often interferes with his training plans, but Christensen remains determined, supported by a dedicated team of three friends from work, including two who will paddle alongside him and one who will serve as skipper during the swim.

Christensen chose the Port to Pub over other swims because “The Port to Pub is reported to offer a more enjoyable experience, and the 25k Ultra offers a bigger challenge” Christensen commented. His endeavour is not just a personal test but a means to bring attention and funds to the Pirate Ship Foundation, reflecting his commitment to both his service and charitable work.

2023 Swimmers

MCC Mermaids & Men

Photo: MCC Mermaids & Men Julia, Kelly, Ben, Shan, and Gill decked out in their sustainable (recycled plastic) swim wear by Funkita

In 2021 the MCC Mermaids & Men were the first Port to Pub team to offset their carbon emissions, and this year they are looking to be a sustainable swim team and do even more.

The team have looked at ways to reduce its environmental footprint and emissions through smart and simple choices and have offset the remaining emissions for the event by planting trees with Carbon Neutral. All the offsets purchased from the swim will be used to support carbon projects to help reduce global emissions. The team is sponsored by MCC Sustainable Futures who help provide advisory services to organisations looking to support their sustainability journey and commitments to net zero.

The MCC Mermaids & Men are hoping to inspire other competing swimmers entering the 2023 race to make their swim more environmentally friendly by sharing their story. If you want ideas you can check out our Sustainability page, which also includes a “cheat sheet” with Tips for a Sustainable Swim.

The cheat sheet includes lots of ideas on things to consider like reducing waste, sustainable swim wear, car-pooling, public transport, low emissions supplies, and even environmentally friendly sunscreen.

Niamh Moloney

Niamh Moloney’s path to Port to Pub was not a typical one. Niamh arrived in Australia 11 years ago from the Middle East where she swam in “very hot, very salty water compared to here.” It was also quite different from her years growing up in Ireland where she swam “a bit” because it was “just too cold and I was scared of seaweed then.”

Swimming in Perth?

“An absolute delight,” Niamh declares.

Niamh first registered for Port to Pub in 2016 with a triathlete friend, a first-time skipper, and another friend to paddle.

“And it was just magic. It was easterly, we were getting waves pushing us to the island. We finished together side by side, and that was probably the start of my addiction.”

“The year I decided to do the solo Port to Pub, it was a really important goal for me. I just had my second child, and [our family was] displaced from our home. And then I had health issues, and I wasn’t in a happy place. I was told I wasn’t allowed to swim. So, when it came around to the start of [the next] swim season, I got the all clear and just dove in. It just gave me so much peace. I drowned out all the noise of the outside world and I just swam and swam and it was so good.”

“I was just so lucky to have swimming. It was the only thing I could carve out for myself. I still use swimming as my getaway. All that rush of water, that noise, it’s so relaxing.”

“When I look out at Rottnest Island… I think about all the wonderful swims I get to do before [event day]. I don’t think “that’s 20 kilometres—I have to swim that.” I think instead about all the amazing swims I got to do to get there, like [swimming with] fish and stingrays. So, when I look out there now, I think “I get to do it all over again.”

“Every year that I’ve [done Port to Pub] I have had key learnings about what it’s given me as a human being. The last one was what it gave me as a mother. The one before that is what it gave me as a woman. Pushing myself out of my comfort zone.”

“Port to Pub is so much more than a swim.”

Helen & Holly Wilson

Helen Wilson first completed Port to Pub with her sister Caroline in 2016 and has since done the event as a duo and 6-person team member.

“Some of my favourite photos… are pictures of my sister and I finishing a swim together.”

Helen also talks about the ability to experience the event with family and friends: “I love that we get to do this together. I’ve used the same paddler pretty much for every swim I’ve done. “My kids [also] came to the finish line with my husband [and] my mom’s family and [my] friends. Having them right there at the finish was amazing.”

Like her mum, Helen’s daughter Holly is returning for another Port to Pub in 2023. Holly previously swam as a 13-year-old in a team of six with school friends.

Holly: “It was awesome. [There was] so much energy going around our boat… and you’d see everyone out there also having fun.”

While they don’t swim on the same team, the mother and daughter speak about their experiences swimming to Rottnest in a similar way.

Helen: “Getting your head underwater, everything else disappears. There’s no feeling like it, really. It’s completely freeing… there’s nothing else to think about except breathing and moving through the water. You can’t hear anything and it’s just pure relaxation.”

Holly: “[In the water] you just kind of feel you’re by yourself… like a calm. Out there you’re just swimming, and then you get back on the boat and it’s all the energy [again], and then you get back in the water and you come back down… it’s just like a big cycle of energy.”

Helen continues: “I look back now and think, I would never have been able to Port to Pub as a 13-year-old. And I think that’s incredible that [Holly] has. I’m just a lay person that enjoys swimming. I would never have imagined that I would be part of this community of… like-minded people that want to move their bodies and get in the ocean and do things like swim to Rottnest. I never thought I would be a part of that. And I’m so glad I am.”

Holly: “It was a life-changing moment. It seems normal now, but I swam like the whole way there. Do Port to Pub, swim to Rottnest, it’s so much fun.”

Helen [laughing]: “Oh, there’s no fun in just getting the ferry to Rottnest.”

Banfield Family Team of 6

Gemma Banfield has swum Port to Pub every year since its inaugural event in 2016. She says, “I love every moment of every swim. It’s always been amazing.”

In 2019, Gemma and her husband Tim partnered with their kids Matilda and Jarvis, then later added Clancy in 2021, to form their family “Fiski Flyers” team. The 2023 event will introduce their youngest daughter Indigo to the event, which means that the entire family will get to compete togetherat the Euroz Hartleys Port to Pub for the very first time.

Tim: “We can’t wait. [Indigo] is so excited because she hasn’t been able to do it yet. And we’re really grateful that she has the ability [and] mindset; that she wants to tackle it at that age and be a part of the family team.”

Gemma: “The kids all love anything to do with the ocean: surfing, swimming, fishing, anything you can think of. We’re all in the ocean constantly. Every holiday has to involve an ocean somewhere.”

Tim: “For the kids to be able to be part of a crossing of some 20 kilometers to reach an island is unique in itself. And particularly when you’re doing it as a family, it’s something you can reflect on at the end of the day, and say we did it as a team. It creates a lot of banter, a lot of good times, a lot of laughs.”

In addition to being a great family day out on the water, Gemma believes that taking part in Port to Pub teaches their kids a lesson about resilience.

Gemma: “There are moments on the boat… where you’re going to get cold, you’re going to get hungry, you’re not going to want to jump back in the water… but they know that to be part of the team they’re going to have to do that. So they get in. And then when they get to [Rottnest], they get to say, “I have done this, and I’ve done every leg, and I’ve swam to the best of my ability even when I really didn’t want to.” For them that is awesome. And I get to be there and see how resilient they have to be; they carry that into their everyday lives.”

Tim: “Port to Pub has been a really important part of our life as a family in terms of exercise, the days out, [and] the memorable moments… Port to Pub has created a lot of memories for us.”

Gemma: “I suppose as the kids get older, it’s not always going to be possible to make sure everyone’s in town or available to do the swim when it comes around in March. So we have to make the most of every opportunity when we can.”

Solo Swimmer Di Twigg

In 2016, Di Twigg did her first Euroz Hartleys Port to Pub as a 19.7km solo swimmer at the age of 59.

“I’m a slow swimmer. I [finished in] just over 10 hours. It was a long day at the office, so to speak.”

“It [was also] a real team effort to get across the line. I think everyone else… the skippy and paddlers… celebrated as much, if not more, than I did. I just think they got really invested in the success of it for me because they knew it was important to me to achieve that goal.”

Di says, “I’d never be a competitive swimmer. I could never swim fast enough.” A lifelong lover of the ocean, she didn’t learn to properly swim until she was 47. At the time she was working a busy executive role and fell in love with the sport as a form of relaxation and exercise.

Since then, Di has completed two successful solo swims to Rottnest in four attempts. She has also finished Port to Pub several times as a member of four- and six-person teams.

She says, “It doesn’t always work out the way you want it to, but it’s an amazing feeling when it does.”

About Port to Pub she says: “One of the nice things about the Port to Pub swim is the inclusivity, and the fact it doesn’t matter whether you’re 13 or 65. It brings different generations together in a way that often doesn’t happen. It’s a really great experience for everyone. It also opens up [an opportunity] for a lot more people [like] the average swimmer to do something that they’re really, really chuffed with.”

“To be able to do something like this [gave me] a huge sense of achievement. I think if you set yourself goals and are given the opportunity to fulfill them, that gives you confidence in life going forward.”

25km Ultramarathon Swimmer Rory Thomson

Rory Thomson started swimming in his mid-twenties as part of his training for triathlons. Being from the United Kingdom, he mostly trained indoors and says that swimming was “not accessible” compared to living in Australia. Eventually, as he got older, “swimming really got me. I just thought [what] a great sport to be involved in. I find swimming to be a bit easier on my body [and] it’s really good for my cardio.”

Rory continues: “The mental benefits I get out of training [are outstanding]. Having something to get up early to go and do before a full day at work… it’s just the best way to spend your week, to be honest. And that path just leads you to swim [Port to Pub].”

“You’re in your own world in the open water. There are no phones, there’s no text message. There are no kids, there’s no one. And you stop every now and again to have a chat with the people you might be swimming with, but other than that, you’re in your own world. And it’s absolutely amazing. And it takes some, it takes some getting used to, but it’s amazing.”

“It’s pretty unique swimming to an island off the coast in Western Australia. Finishing on the beach is one of the greatest experiences of any sport that I’ve ever done.”

25km Ultramarathon Swimmer Jimmy Clothier

A swimmer through his teens, Jimmy Clothier took a pause on the sport for nearly 15 years before deciding to pursue his “lifelong goal and bucket list item” of swimming the Port to Pub 25km ultramarathon to Rottnest Island.

“It’s just something I’ve always dreamed of doing. And yeah, it just clicked one day. I just decided I’ve got to do it. And yeah, get going, get training and then get out there.”

“The swim is awesome. You’re standing there on the beach early in the morning. The atmosphere is electric. You can feel the nerves.”

“So arriving at Rottnest, you swim as far as you can into the shore, the shallows, and you stand up, you check your legs are still working and you stumble at that beach. You crossed that finish line. And it’s just this incredible sense of community. You’ve got your friends, your family, and everyone there cheering you on. You’ve got a DJ playing in the background. And you ring that bell, and it’s literally like it is a dream coming true.”

If you’re thinking about doing Port to Pub, you’ve got to do it. It’s just incredible. It’s such a community, the Port to Pub people. People have done it before. People are about to do it. You’re all in it together to achieve the same thing, so just do it.”

25km Ultramarathon Swimmer Jane Pay

Five years ago Jane Pay would have never imaged swimming 25 kilometres to Rottnest Island. The mother of three started ocean swimming when she moved to Perth in 2017. She “coerced” a friend to swim with her and eventually found herself doing to Port to Pub as a member of a four person team. “So that was the start,” she says.

“A lot of people think swimming to Rotto solo is a solo event… but you have an army of people behind you. I mean, you’ve been out with [your squad] every morning training at 5:30. You’ve got your family, and you’ve got [your] coach, your friends, and that belief that everyone is behind you.”

“Ultimately, on the day, you make it because you’ve really done what you need to do. And it actually goes quite quickly. Yeah, too quickly.”

“And to ring that [finish line] bell? It’s just one of those things I will never forget for the rest of my life.”

2021 Swimmers

MCC Mermaids

The MCC Mermaids will compete in their first Port to Pub swim in 2021. The group is also aiming to be the first team to offset all the carbon emissions from their swim. Kerrie Youngs, Helen Astill, Julia Crozier, Kiersten Morkel, Gillian Starling, and Naomi Patrick will be calculating the emissions they generate for the event and offset them by purchasing carbon credits (CO2 equivalent) by planting/protecting WA forest from Carbon Neutral.

Emissions included in their calculations are travel to the event, vessel fuel while swimming, return ferry, and food and water during the event.

The team is sponsored by MCC Environmental, which helps organisations become more sustainable. This includes looking at opportunities to reduce emissions and identifying ways to reduce them.

The team says it’s cheap and easy to offset emissions generated by your swim. Although detailed calculations will be finalised after the race is completed (and will be determined by fuel use, weather, race time, etc.), the team believes it is likely to be less than 0.5 tonnes of C02 per swimmer, which can be offset for as little as two cups of coffee with Carbon Neutral’s Biodiverse Reforestation Carbon Offsets project.

Team member and MCC Environment Sustainability Lead Kerrie Youngs said, “The Mermaids want everyone to share and inspire others with their swim. It is great to know that doing the swim is good for me, the community, the environment, and our future.”

Bronte Edwards

Bronte Edwards loves competing in sport and is willing to give anything a go, including our 400m Kids Swim for Telethon.

Bronte has been swimming since she was 16 weeks old, starting out at State Swim in Osborne Park. Over the years she has continued to work on her endurance and technique, welcoming advice from her coaches to improve her stroke. She is currently enjoying plenty of pool and ocean swimming as a member of Scarborough Beach Swimming Club and Scarboro Surf Life Saving Club. She has enjoyed some great achievements this past year including second place in the surf race at SSLSC Club Champs and Champion Girl for her year at her last school swimming carnival.

One of her favourite aspects of swimming is being able to train with the friends that she has made along the way. She likes to challenge herself to better her PBs and to track her improvement throughout the year.

Bronte is super excited to be competing in her first Kids Swim for Telethon at Port to Pub this year. She’s looking forward to the challenge and having fun along the way.

The Kids Swim for Telethon is on at 2pm at the Port to Pub finish line. All proceeds from the event go to Telethon. Good luck Bronte and all the other kids competing!

Subiaco Sports Massage Steam Team & South Cott Physio Dream Team

Since the first Port to Pub race in 2016, there has been fierce rivalry between the elite swimmers in the Subiaco Sports Massage Steam Team and the South Cott Physio Dream Team.

The Dream Team was first over the line in 2019 with a time of 04:03:22.4, only 35 seconds ahead of the Steam Team. The Dream Team hold the mixed team of six record and the Steam Team still hold the male team of six record (04:01:33.6 recorded in 2017) so it will be another heated race.

The Steam Team comprises Olympic and Aussie Champions Eamon Sullivan, Tommaso D’Orsogna, Bobby Jovanovich, Matthew Pupazzoni, Jim Piper, and Adam Lucas.

The Dream Team features some of our best and well-known open water swimmers including Gareth Evans, Jaime Bowler, Josie Page, Ben Jones, Paul Blackbeard, and Paul Laver.

South Cott Physio owner Prue Stokes and her team will be at the finish line in the swimmer recovery area to check out and advise on any aches and pains.

Subiaco Sports Massage’s Bernd Adolph and his team of expert therapists will also be in the swimmer recovery area to offer swimmers a remedial massage after the event.

Thanks Prue and Bernd for all your support and good luck to the Steam and Dream Teams – we can’t wait for this race!

Russell Green

Port to Pub 25km swimmer Russell Green is on a mission to complete one of the longest open water swims in Australia on 20 March. Partly, it’s for the challenge of completing this toughest race to Rottnest. Mostly, it’s to raise funds to help afford a wheelchair accessible car for his quadriplegic daughter, Bonny.

Bonny was only six months old when the HSV1 virus left her with severe brain damage. She has quadriplegic cerebral palsy and requires round the clock care to assist with every aspect of her life.

Now, 6 years old, she requires a wheelchair to move around home and the community. Her bones are brittle and, as she grows, lifting her in and out of her car seat is becoming dangerous.

2020 Swimmers

Martina Oriozabala


Martina with open water swimmer Petar Stoychev

18-year-old Argentinian open water swimmer Martina Oriozabala is flying to Perth this week to prepare to race in the Port to Pub 25km ultra-marathon.

She will be a serious competitor in this event – she was ranked 6th in the world at FINA’s 2019 Ultra-Marathon Swim Series.

Her father Gustavo Oriozabala – also a champion open water swimmer – told Port to Pub’s Jane Munday that Martina was the youngest person ever to achieve that ranking.

Martina is currently Argentina’s long-distance swimming champion and last year was ranked sixth female in the world in FINA’s marathon swim series. At 17, she was the youngest person ever to achieve that ranking.

Martina was born in Mendoza in Argentina and started swimming when she was six years old.

She trains hard, currently swimming 15-20 kilometres a day and around 90-100 kilometres a week. Martina has raced in Macedonia (25kms); Croatia (25kms); Santa Fe Coronda (57kms); and Capri-Napoli (38kms). In each of these races, she was the youngest swimmer ever to compete.

She trains in the pool at Mendoza’s Regatta Club under the guidance of coach Claudio Capezzone, who coached me 25 years ago!

Martina is now focused on increasing her swimming experiences and is participating in events all over the world. She’s aiming to be a world champion.

We found out about the Port to Pub event and ultra-marathon through the Global World Swim series, of which Port to Pub is a member.

Martina and I are really excited about visiting beautiful Australia, as well as meeting some of Australia’s best open water swimmers, who are also some of the best in the world.  And she’s going to do her best to win the race on March 21.

We’re coming to Perth this week to prepare for the race – we’re very excited to be coming to Perth for this race. From Perth, Martina will visit Sydney for a couple of days and then we’re travelling to New Zealand for a race in Auckland.”

She’s going to be one to watch. Good luck Martina!

NB: Open water swimming is in the Oriozebala genes. Martina’s father Gustavo has a very impressive CV of open and cold water swims.

  • Ranked World Number 2 in 1992
  • International Swimming Hall of Fame (ISHOF) member
  • Holds record for ‘Rio de la Plata’ race – 45km
  • First ever to undertake the double of cross of the ‘Strait of Gibraltar’
  • Holds record of ‘Parana to Rosario’ race – 188km
  • Swam the ‘English Channel’ – 37km
  • Treble cross of the ‘Beagle Channel’ – 9km at 4 degrees
  • World record swim of the ‘Strait of Magellan’ – 7km at 4 degrees
  • World record swim of ‘Lake Titicaca’ (Peru) – 7km at 4 degrees
  • World record swim and first person to swim between the Falkland Islands – 9km
  • Winner of the ‘Zurich Lake’ swim – 25km
  • Winner of the ‘Escape from Alcatraz’ swim – 4 degrees


Sydney ultra-marathon swimmers heading to Perth
Pics: Nicole Brown (left) and Flic Harrison (right) sitting on the side of the pool, and Colleen Engel-Mallon and Andrew Keay in the water. Georgia Hall and Rachael Hanisch after the 25km ultra-marathon in 2019​

Six Sydneysiders are on their way to Perth to take on our 25km ultra-marathon. They all train together at VladSwim  under well-known coach Vladmir Mravec. With half of the swimmers hailing from Perth, they’re looking forward to coming home and taking on our longest open water swim. Port to Pub’s Jane Munday spoke to the team to find out more.

Colleen Engel-Mallon: I’m from Ireland, and before you ask, yes – people from Ireland can swim! I’ve been living in Australia for nearly ten years and have loved every single second of it. I’m married to an Australian who kayaks for me on the weekends and makes sure I’m safe. I’ve done a few swims, such as Rottnest Channel Swim and the North Channel (Ireland to Scotland), and I’ve signed up for another crazy cold channel swim later this year. I’m a Port to Pub first-timer, and looking forward to spending some quality time in Perth and Rottnest Island. To be honest, sometimes I don’t know why I swim, but secretly, it’s probably because I get to eat as much of whatever I want when I’m training hard! Check out my journey – https://www.colleendoublecrossing.com/

Felicity (Flic) Harrison: I started my swimming journey in Perth ten years ago. I was the skipper in the RCS for some friends in early 2010. I was so jealous of the swimmers on the day that, the next year, I rallied some university mates together and entered as a team of four! Fast forward ten years and I am living in Sydney and training with VladSwim. Vlad Mravec has created a wonderful community here in Sydney. We all care for each other and support each other with our swimming goals. I got into swimming through my love of the water, but stayed in the water for my love of my squad.

Next year I will attempt the English Channel. I will be swimming as a proud Aboriginal woman – with the Aboriginal flag worn proudly on my swimsuit.  I would not have been able to set my sights on this goal had it not been for Vlad and his amazing swimmers that I call my friends. They have given me the confidence to enter in the Port to Pub ultra-marathon swim – and eventually to the shores of Dover (and hopefully to Calais!).

Andrew Keay: I grew up in Perth and swam short events competitively at school, with most of my training at the Claremont Pool. Ocean swimming really kicked off with a few Sydney beach events followed by an Icebergs swim in San Fran; Alcatraz and Golden Gate bridge. That done it seemed natural to look for bigger, more challenging swims. I completed the RCS and the English Channel in 2019. This year it’s the Port to Pub 25km ultra-marathon, the Palm Beach to Shelly the following week. In May, I’ll swim the Gold Coast Marathon, then North Channel in August. Port to Pub is a thrill to attempt, the conditions are always a challenge and look back to days at North Cottesloe gazing out at the Island on the horizon. Inconceivable to swim to it! To an outsider looking on, marathon swimming may appear incomprehensible. Endurance swimmers are happy to spend hours enveloped in water, sometimes wild, sometimes warm, often cold …very cold. Dealing with the angst, the dark thoughts and the deepest test of yourself is a “getting to know the real you” moment. Ocean swimming brings together the most amazing coterie, with support, encouragement to help you achieve. It’s the people and the challenge!

Georgia Hall: I started swimming with VladSwim a few years when I moved from the UK to Australia. Vlad Mravec taught me freestyle – I was a complete rookie. My first ocean swim was in December 2015 and since then I’ve been hooked! This is my third-year swimming the Port to Pub 25km. I was inspired by Rachael Hanisch (Elkaim), a well-known and much-loved swimmer who got engaged to the wonderful Michael Hanisch at the Port to Pub finish line in 2017. In 2019 I won my category for the 25km without realising the pain in my abdomen was appendicitis. I had it removed a few days later in a regional WA hospital whilst on a wine tour. I swam the English Channel in 2019 and plan to swim the Cook Strait and Manhattan Island in 2020. I love Port to Pub for the friendly atmosphere and the option to do an ultra-marathon (why do 19.7km when you can do 25km?!)

Nicole Brown: I was very amateur but enthusiastic swimmer as a kid growing up in Perth and all through university. I only got back into it when I moved to Sydney a few years ago.  It started with the iconic Bondi to Bronte swim and one thing led to another. After an enjoyable duo RCS crossing with my friend Katie, I stepped it up to do three solos. I’m excited and a little nervous about my first go at the Port to Pub 25km. It will be sure to be followed by a quick stop through the Rotto bakery and few celebratory drinks with my Perth family and friends before coming back to Sydney to tackle the Palm Beach to Shelly swim the following Saturday.

Rachael Hanisch: I’ve been training with VladSwim in Sydney since late 2012, when I signed up for my first Rottnest Channel crossing. I’ve since completed 6 Rottnest crossings, English Channel, Catalina Channel, 20 Bridges (Manhattan Island Circumnavigation), and North Channel. North Channel is the swim I am most proud of because upon completion on 5 September 2018, I became the first Australian woman to do so. I have swum the Port to Pub 25km ultra-marathon almost every year. In 2017, my now-husband Michael proposed to me at the finish line at Hotel Rottnest! I hope that my body will allow me to participate in the Port to Pub every year for the rest of my life! I’ve also got my eye on completing a swim that truly pushes me to my limit.”

Just Get There

Team ‘Just Get There’ incudes Rachel Mathewson, Clare Shales, Kelly O’Brien, Maz Johnston, Luisa Dillon, and Olivia Harrison. The team – and even their paddler Beth Harris –  are all parents from Mosman Park Primary School and well known in the local community.

Many of the team were not swimmers but started training under coach, Port to Pub’s Ceinwen Roberts to prep for the event.

Clare Shales: “Last year, our annual Rottnest holiday coincided with the Port to Pub weekend. Maz and I decided it looked like a lot of fun and that we’d sign up for it in 2020. In May of 2019, we started training in Ceinwen’s Tuesday squad. Initially, the best part was the hot shower afterwards but the more we trained the less tedious it felt and I started to look forward to the session, rather than dread them!

From there, we entered the sub culture of open water swimming. Our first ever ocean swim was the Swanny Ocean Classic. We were up at 6am on a Saturday morning – who had we become?! It was such an amazing experience. I can’t believe we managed to make it all the way from Cott to Swanny. Imagine the high when we get to Rotto!

Our first lap of the newly installed shark net at Cott felt like we’d conquered Mt Everest.

The Port to Pub experience continues to bring with it new friendships, challenges and achievements that we never thought possible. We’ve even got a sponsor – 123 Nourish Me is supplying us with sunscreen!”

Liv Harrison: “I always thought I’d never swim to Rotto. I wanted a new challenge – something out of my comfort zone. I hadn’t swum since high school and now I just wish I had more time to train! So excited and can’t wait to share it with such an awesome group of girls.”

Luisa Dillon: “When I was asked to join a Port to Pub team, the thought terrified me. No way could I take on something like that – I can’t swim, I’ve never even had swimming lessons! So, May last year, aged 45, I had my first swimming lesson with Ceinwen. Teaching me the bare basics, Ceinwen got me from swimming 2 meters freestyle to joining squads in just 3 weeks. I wouldn’t be participating in this event without the support and encouragement of my amazing team mates and friends.”

See you at the FINISH line girls!!

The Dream Team and The Steam Team

Since 2016, there has been fierce rivalry between the elite swimmers in the Subiaco Sports Massage Steam Team and the South Cott Physio Dream Team. This year is no different after 2019 saw just 35 seconds between the two teams across the finish line!

The Dream Team took the line honours in 2019 with a time of 04:03:22.4 and were first across the line overall. The Steam Team, however, are still the male team of six record holders (04:01:33.6 recorded in 2017) so all eyes will be watching to see if they can keep their title!

The Steam Team is made up of Olympians and Aussie Champions Eamon Sullivan, Travis Nederpelt, Bobby Jovanovich, Matthew Pupazzoni, Jim Piper and Adam Lucas.

The Dream Team features a mostly new line up of some of our best and well-known open water swimmers including Gareth Evans, Jaime Bowler, Paul Laver, Tim Hewitt, Paul Blackbeard and Nicola Fraschini.

South Cott Physio owner Prue Stokes and her team will be at the finish line in the swimmer recovery area to check out and advise on any aches and pains.

Subiaco Sports Massage will be providing their team of expert therapists to offer swimmers a remedial massage after the event. Owner Bernd Adolph and some of the Subiaco Sports Massage staff will once again be swimming in the Port to Pub. The Subi Sports Staffish team includes Bernd along with Gretta Adolph, well-known swimmer Jessica Pengelly, Charles Wittenoom, Mark Ellis and Tom Adolph.

Good luck all – we’ll be waiting at the finish line!


Pic: Ray Kuka, Kari Barnard, Kate Molinari and Brent Stewart make up Seven West Media’s SWiM team

We love it when our sponsors swim in the event and we are pretty excited to tell you our naming rights Sponsor Channel 7 / Seven West Media has fielded a team in the race this year – made up entirely of staff.

Port to Pub’s Jane Munday asked Seven West Media WA Chief Marketing Officer (and 2020 Port to Pub swimmer) Kate Molinari about the team and their preparations.

Firstly Kate, who’s in the team?

The SWiM team is made up of Seven West Media executives and it’s a real team effort, with staff members making up the entire team from our swimmers, to paddlers and crew.

I’m swimming, along with 7News Director Ray Kuka, Digital Director Brent Stewart and GM Technology Kari Barnard. SWM’s CFO Shane O’Connor is paddling along with our CAO Nathan Cave. SWM CEO Maryna Fewster is kindly providing our support boat and our COO Phil O’Toole will be in our support crew timing the rotation of the swimmers.

Is this the team’s first-time swimming across to Rottnest?

Three of the team have swum across to Rotto before in teams, with one of the team giving it a go for the first time. We are by no means hard core swimmers, but we are really looking forward to the challenge and it’s given us a great reason to focus on our swimming and fitness.

What is your current Port to Pub training schedule looking like?

We are a busy bunch and a bit time poor, so training together is a challenge.  We have all been training and getting into the ocean regularly for swims. Our WhatsApp banter provides much needed motivation and laughs.

You and the support crew all work together at Seven West Media – how do you think you’ll perform as a team on the day?

As swimmers in the team, we think we’ll be backed by the best in the business on the day. Our CEO Maryna and her husband Steve are providing the boat, and Steve will be our trusty skipper. Shane, Nathan, and Phil will be with us as support crew for the day, taking in turns to paddle and keep time and make sure we’re all ok. And, it’s not only the support along the way that will help get us to Rotto, the team is also ready to party at the finish line!

What is it about the day you’re most looking forward to?

We are really excited to push ourselves out of our comfort zone, and enjoy being together as a team outside of the office. Seven West Media is really proud to support this event and we are excited to be such a big part of it. We think it’s going to be such a great day – we can’t wait!

The Cranky Crabs

The Cranky Crabs team of six is a group of 13-year-old school friends from Iona Presentation College. They will be the youngest all girl team to swim in this year’s Channel 7 Port to Pub with Hotel Rottnest. The team; Lilly Sutherland, Tahlia Kitson, Maggie Connor, Amelia Thomas, Olivia McManus and Grace Coenen are all extremely excited and up for the challenge.
They have varied swimming backgrounds but one thing they all have in common is the shared goal of making it to Rotto!
Some of the girls have known each other since kindy and have been waiting until they were old enough to participate, this has been a long time coming and they are thrilled to be a part of it.
Team member Lily Sutherland said: “We are lucky because our school has offered morning swimming training 4 times a week since the start of January and we have been going so we definitely feel fitter and stronger.”
Tahlia Kitson says she believes the Port to Pub will leave the team with with lasting memories and inspire the group to keep challenging themselves.
“I’m really excited about our first Port to Pub, I think it’s going to bring us closer together as friends and teammates, and it will be an experience we will never forget,” said Maggie Connor, while teammate Olivia McManus said, “This will be a first for our team and I hope there will be many more to come.”
We do too – good luck Cranky Crabs!

Bec Johnson

Well-known open water swimmer Rebecca (Bec) Johnson has set herself a serious challenge for 2020 – four Rottnest Channel crossings to raise $85,000 for the Type 1 Diabetes Family Centre, the non-profit organisation she co-founded in 2015 and now leads as its CEO.

Bec was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes, a complex autoimmune condition that left her dependent on daily insulin injections, when she was 17. Many people told her about the risks, barriers and challenges related to type 1 when she was diagnosed, but she’s out to prove them wrong, and show that life with type 1 diabetes can be a Life without Limits – the name of her 2020 swim campaign.

Bec spends her spare time swimming and scuba diving, and is happiest when she’s in the ocean. For Bec, the next three months of swimming are going to be some of the most mentally challenging of her life, swimming a total of 85km over three marathon swims.

This month, she’ll swim a Rottnest Channel Swim solo, followed by the Port to Pub 25km ultra-marathon swim in March, finishing with a double crossing (Cottesloe to Rottnest return) in April.

Our sponsor Rottnest Express is kindly sponsoring Bec to be part of this year’s Channel 7 Port to Pub with Hotel Rottnest.

Bec will be the first Type 1 diabetic to attempt our 25km ultra-marathon, which is the longest open water race in the Southern Hemisphere, and the first to complete a double crossing.

Bec has had over 40,000 insulin injections since diagnosis. Living with type 1 diabetes has taught Bec discipline, adaptability and mental toughness, which gets her through training for marathon swimming. She manages her medical condition with daily training, a very low-carbohydrate diet, multiple daily injections of insulin and adapting diabetes technology for use in the water.

At the Type 1 Diabetes Family Centre, she leads a team dedicated to creating a connected, confident type 1 diabetes community in Western Australia. The Family Centre is an Australia-first centre for people with type 1 diabetes; an award-winning non-profit that receives no government funding.

The next three months will take her swimming fundraising efforts to more than $125,000, having already raised over $40,000 for the Family Centre via solo swims to Rottnest Island in 2017 and 2019.

To donate, please visit www.lifewithoutlimits.com.au

To follow Bec’s story head to www.facebook.com/lifewithoutlimits2020

Type 1 diabetes

Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease that cannot be prevented and doesn’t have a cure. It is triggered by a combination of genetic and environmental factors, and is not related to lifestyle choices. Type 1 can be diagnosed at any age, but is usually diagnosed during childhood.

People with type 1 diabetes are dependent on a complex daily regimen of insulin injections, blood glucose testing and strict management of food intake and physical activity, for life.

The Type 1 Diabetes Family Centre:

Established in Perth, Western Australia in 2015, the Type 1 Diabetes Family Centre connects, supports and inspires hundreds of families impacted by type 1 diabetes through education, clinical care, and community-based support. A non-profit that receives no government funding, every dollar donated to Life without Limits will go towards the Family Centre’s programs and services for the type 1 community of WA.

The Sea Hags

We are celebrating our fifth year of Port to Pub and there are a few swimmers who we’re proud to say have participated every year of the event.

The Sea Hags – made up of Chelsea Begley, Jaye Reynolds, Sally Flavel and Emma Johnston – is one of those teams.

They are the current female team of four record holders for their 5:16:14.3 swim in 2016 and are back again in 2020 to try and keep it!

Port to Pub’s Jane Munday spoke to Sea Hags team captain Chelsea Begley.

“We swam in the Port to Pub’s first year and we were the first female team of four over the line. We have managed to keep our record since 2016. We had also managed to win the female team of four category every year, until last year when we were beaten by three seconds! There was no choice for us except to return again in 2020!!

The team is made up of me, my sister Jaye Reynolds, along with Sally Flavel and Emma Johnston. Jaye and I met Emma at Thornlie swimming club when we were kids and I met Sally about 20 years ago through our husbands. So, it’s pretty special for us having such a long-term bond.

The four of us have always swum. As kids we all followed that black line up and down the pool and we all competed at various levels. As young adults we all made the move to open water swimming. Most of our kids are right into surf club, so we still spend a lot of time at the beach and in the water.

Our busy schedules mean that we all do our training separately – in fact the only time we all get together before race day is the briefing night!

We’re really looking forward to Port to Pub this year. I’d love it if we could break our own record and finish in under 5 hours.

We’ll keep on swimming in Port to Pub as long as we can. This year my kids said I couldn’t do it – so I am [laughs]. That’s going to be my 2020 motto!”

Good luck Sea Hags!

Michael Pell Solo 19.7km

Perth-born Sydneysider Michael Pell is taking on the 19.7km solo in this year’s Channel 7 Port to Pub with Hotel Rottnest.

He’s swum across the Rottnest Channel in teams before but this year marks his first solo challenge.

He admits he’s more of a runner than a swimmer but, as he told Port to Pub’s Jane Munday he’s driven by a cause close to his heart.

“I always wanted to commit to a Rottnest solo, but I was pretty scared about it.

In 2011, we were devastated to lose my Dad from Motor Neuron Disease (MND), after a diagnosis only a year earlier. Committing to a solo swim has been a huge deal for me, but I have found the strength to commit by honouring my Dad’s memory and fundraising for FIGHTMND, which supports the Cure for MND Foundation

Rottnest is a special place for me. My Dad used to take me there every Easter and Christmas holidays growing up – I know he would be very proud to see me swim solo to Rottnest in the Port to Pub. I became a proud father to Oscar two weeks ago, so that’s motivating me even more.

I’ve been training with VladSwim and been swimming 4 sessions a week at the Andrew Boy Charlton pool and one in the ocean in any of Sydney’s many great swimming spots. I’m going to be swimming in a tandem solo with my mate Stuart Wesley, who lives on the Mornington Peninsular in Victoria, so we can encourage each other along the way.

I find swimming really meditative. I think about Dad a lot. And now Oscar too. I think about [former Essendon player] Neil Daniher who’s another inspiration for my solo swim. I think ‘my solo swim is nothing compared to what he and my Dad have had to go through.’ And that really spurs me on.

My wife Karen and Oscar, my Mum and sister will all be there to see me at the finish line. They’re really proud of me.

I’ve raised over $12,000 already and I’d be grateful for ay donations and support to help FIGHTMND and find a cure for this disease.”

Donate here: https://bit.ly/2QZOlSj

Instagram: @PelicansSurfReport

Michael is doing a solo swim with Stuart Wesley.

The Cin Cin Girls

The Cin Cin Girls making a pact on St Patrick’s Day to swim in 2020.

Team of six, The Cin Cin Girls are a very special bunch to the Port to Pub team.

Felicitas Schwarz (Flic), Di Twigg, Patricia Doohey, Sheridan Lister, Karen Parbery and Sarina Bowyer have been involved in the Port to Pub every year since it started.

Not all of them were always swimmers but one way or another they found swimming. It has become their passion and they have now swum together in a squad for years, forming wonderful friendships along the way, writes Port to Pub’s Jane Munday.

Ten years ago, on a flight to Perth from Germany (where incidentally she met her now husband), ocean swimming was about as foreign as Australia to Flic.

“I wasn’t a swimmer at all. I love endurance sports but I hadn’t ever swum races in the ocean.”

She moved to a house on the coast and found herself by the ocean more and more. Seeing the start line of the Rottnest Channel Swim was the moment she was convinced she wanted to swim to Rottnest. She completed her first Team Channel crossing in 2013 and hasn’t looked back. It’s a passion she now shares with her husband Scott.

“Scott is from Edinburgh. He couldn’t swim freestyle when he came to Australia. With a lot of dedication, he learned freestyle and did his first solo crossing in 2014. He’s swimming the Port to Pub 25km ultra-marathon next year. How good is that?”

Flic [and Scott] met the rest of the team – Di Twigg, Trish Doohey, Sheridan Lister, Karen Parbery and Sarina Bowyer when they joined the Barracudas swim squad at Churchlands.

“We quickly became friends. We swim together and we party together! It’s such a nice group of people and I have always felt encouraged. It is what has made my move to Australia so special and gave us a sense of belonging,” said Flic.

They now train together at Scarborough Pool as often as possible, and fit in ocean swims where they can.

Most of the team is in their 50s and 60s (except Sarina!). They have over 11 solo swims between them and many, many duos and team swims.

Port to Pub swimmers will well remember Di Twigg’s epic solo in 2016 (pictured) – the first year of Port to Pub. After a disqualification at the Rottnest Channel Swim a few week’s earlier, she took on the Port to Pub 19.7km solo swim. She reached Rottnest with 10 minutes to go before the cut off time and had been in the water for over 10 hours. She was met at the Island by the loudest of applause – the whole crowd ready to celebrate her achievement. After her swim, Di said: “If you can’t come first, come last, you get an even better reception.”

Sheridan Lister, Trish Doohey and Karen Parbery are well known and long-time members of the WA swimming community and so is the ‘youngster’, Sarina, a former national water polo player.

“We love the atmosphere of Port to Pub. That’s why we have done it every year. It really is a swim for all and I think we’ve shown that you’re never too old to swim –  or to do a solo swim. I didn’t think it was possible, but it is,” Flic added.

Good luck (cheers!) The Cin Cin Girls

Hot Chips

Pic L to R – Monique Vollprecht, Louise De Chiera, Jane Heaven, Sarah Breheny


The Yallingup Lagoon is proving a great training base for four South West mums swimming in a team called Hot Chips!

Dunsborough’s Monique Vollprecht, Sarah Breheny, Louise De Chiera and Jane Heaven have spent the winter training in the Busselton Pool, and are very happy to be back in the Yallingup Lagoon for their 6am swim sessions, where they swim a roughly marked triangular route that varies with the effects of the tide.

“I love the lagoon, it is really protected. At the moment, it’s still quite cold but it’s exhilarating,” said team captain Jane Heaven.

Heaven swam at school, but really started enjoying it once she moved to the south-west, when a group of girls started swimming together and entering races along the way. “I don’t really love pool swimming – the black line and chlorine – but it is so refreshing to swim in the ocean and I love having the sea life to look at. And I love the morning swim – you feel amazing for the rest of the day.”

“I had always wanted to swim to Rottnest, but I thought it was for elite swimmers until the Port to Pub event. This race seemed to have a lot of opportunity for everyone. So we decided to give it a go and we had such a great time we wanted to do it again.”

Teammate Monique Vollprecht agrees, “We swam in the inaugural Port to Pub and we won our team’s category. I love the team aspect of the Port to Pub and competing with beautiful, supportive friends.  Doing a team event makes you accountable and motivated to train.”

Louise De Chiera said she had always enjoyed swimming but her passion kicked in when she joined Swimming Women in Busselton. “With a swim coach and gorgeous women by my side I have grown to love swimming more and more which has extended to a love of the ocean. I love the beautiful friendships that have been created in the water, the laughs and meditative feeling of swimming.

“I never thought I would swim to Rotto but with the support of three fabulous girls who have done it before I am excited for the Port to Pub.”.

Heaven says the biggest challenge for the team is time – finding the opportunity for the team to get together around their families’ schedules. “But the enjoyment we generate from swimming training together far outweighs any other challenge. We finish an event and enjoy it so much we sign up for the next one straight afterwards!”

Good luck Hot Chips!