Race Day Planning & Swimmer Information

Race Day Planning for Swimmers AND Support Crews

Hold a pre-race meeting
Meet with your swimmer/s, skipper, and support crew members prior to race day to go over the schedule, wave times, start line comms, logistics, safety, food plan, post-swim plan, and more. The pre-race meeting helps to align expectations.

Prep your crew accordingly
Assign specific roles to each person on the support crew, and make sure they understand what each role entails. In addition to the skipper and paddler/s, roles include a spotter to assist the skipper in conducting changeovers and a second crew member to maintain visual contact with the swimmer and other swimmers in close proximity of the support boat. Other responsibilities include feeding and hydrating swimmers, throwing the rope for changeovers, ensuring sunscreen is reapplied, etc.

Plot your course
Familiarise yourself with the course information. Many skippers choose to plot their course prior to event day using the rhumb line coordinates provided.

Health and safety
It is essential that the skipper, paddler, and support crew maintain awareness of the health and condition of swimmer/s and watch for signs and symptoms of illness and deterioration, including hypothermia and cramp.

Prepare for seasickness
Bring seasickness provisions on the support boat for treatment of both swimmers and crew.

Remember it’s a long day out
Remember that skippers and support crew are on the water for the same amount of time as their swimmer/s. Make sure that everyone plans their nutrition, clothing, and sun protection accordingly. Pack extra warm clothing and towels.

Have fun!
Race day is chock full of emotion, and rightfully so. Many of you have worked hard to get to the start line. Treat each other with kindness and respect. Be proud of yourselves for getting this far and enjoy your day out!


If possible, we recommend incorporating a few swims with your teammates, paddler/s, and skipper into your training routine. The benefits of doing these training swims include:

  • Getting to know your swimmer/s style, stroke, and speed so you can more easily identify them and better understand when something might be needed (e.g., food, rest, or medical attention).
  • Practising hand signals so that everyone knows what they mean and so that they are consistent and natural on race day.
  • Practising swimmer changeovers to determine what works best, including how to get in and out of the boat or whether to use a rope to assist in pulling swimmer/s into the boat.
  • Practising paddler changeovers on/off the support boat and wet exits from paddle craft to ensure paddler/s can get back onto their crafts unassisted.

Important Details

Meeting up
Confirm your swimmer wave start time and calculate approximately how long it will take them, depending on their swim speed, to reach the 1500 metre marker; swimmers cannot proceed past this marker until they have joined their support boat.

Note: Calculating swimmer speed is particularly important for 25km ultramarathon swimmers as they must complete the 5km loop before meeting their support boats.

Discuss how your paddler will find your start line swimmer and (then) support boat, including approximate meeting points (north or south) in the channel. Discuss how the support boat will keep track of paddler/s and swimmer/s during the event. Note that balloons are NOT allowed.

If applicable, decide on the rotation of your swimmers, including how long each swimmer will be in the water for one rotation.

Prepare a list of foods and fluids needed for event day; swimmers should practice their nutrition in advance; support team should be aware of what swimmer/s need and when throughout the swim.

Cut-off times
Make sure swimmers, skippers, and support crew are aware of race cut-off times (available on the Full Course Map).

Swimmer distress signalling: If a swimmer becomes distressed, they should raise one hand above their head in order to alert their paddler and skipper as well as emergency boats in the area for assistance.

Swimmer Changeovers

Swimmer responsibilities
Swimmers are encouraged and recommended to swim a minimum of one minute before changeover to avoid risks associated with changeovers in congested areas. Swimmers must clearly tag the next swimmer by slapping hands above the water.

Skipper responsibilities
During changeover, skippers of boats with single engines must put their boat into neutral and only engage them when instructed by the spotter. Skippers of boats with double outboards must turn the engine completely off before taking the swimmer on board.

Boats should not circle towards other swimmers’ paths during pickups.

Boats should not go astern at all; however, skippers can use reverse thrust to stop the forward way of their boat to avoid swimmer, paddler, or vessel collision. This must be done in a controlled manner with the skipper checking that it is all clear directly behind the boat before acting.

Extreme caution should be used when picking up swimmers and paddlers. Solo swimmers have right of way and interference should be avoided at all costs.

Spotter responsibilities
Spotters provide assistance as needed to ensure safe changeovers, including the safety of other swimmers and support craft.

No duo or team member swimmer changeovers are to take place in the first 1000 metres of the event for safety reasons.

Swimmer Sign-Off

The swimmer wearing the timing strap must pass through the finishing arch and over the timing mat to record the finish time. Other duo and team members may pass through the finishing arch, but this is not compulsory.

Swimmers may have their photograph taken by the official event photographer. Photos will be available on Port to Pub’s social media channels.

At 5:00pm, race officials will reconcile all entries to identify those who have not finished/crossed over the finish mat. These entrants will be called on marine radio VHF channel 74.

Qualified medical personnel in the medical tent will be available to check the conditions of swimmers post-event.

Need to withdraw? If you are withdrawing from the event and not in an emergency, you must notify us. To keep the radio channels clear, you can withdraw via the Port to Pub MapSwim app. In “Settings” -> Press the WITHDRAW button. Your number and team name is already logged when you sign onto the app.

Tandem Swimmers

Tandem swimmers are 25km Ultramarathon and 19.7km Solo swimmers that use the same skipper. In this case, the tandem team also needs to plan for:

Staying together
Tandem swimmers must remain in close proximity throughout the event. If one swimmer is faster than the other, how you will maintain a pace that works for both of you? How can your paddlers and members of your support crew help to manage pace?

Determine when and what you will eat and drink, including whether the tandem swimmers are on the same feeding schedule.

Health & Safety
If medical assistance is required for your tandem partner, will you tread water while they wait for and receive assistance, or will you both withdraw?


Your support boat needs to display boat stickers for both swimmers.

Ensure that you have enough space onboard for the four people in the water (two swimmers and two paddlers), two paddle craft, and other support crew.

Health & Safety
Make an advanced plan for how to respond if one swimmer (or both swimmers) becomes unwell or requires medical attention.

Swimmer Checklist

Swimmer Nutrition Tips

Before race day use long training swims to practice your race day nutrition plan; this includes your
pre-race nutrition the day/night before. Consider carbohydrate loading to make sure your body is full
of energy ahead of race day.

Week leading up to race day stay well hydrated in the week lead up to the swim. Take necessary medications (e.g., seasickness, antihistamines, and pain/inflammation relief) with breakfast.

On the morning of race day do what you have been doing for training – this is not the time to try something different. Enjoy a nutritious breakfast with plenty of time (1-2 hours) before the swim start.


Good foods and drinks to have include:

  • Fruits (e.g., bananas, grapes, watermelon, rockmelon, pineapple, dates)
  • Protein balls & bars
  • Energy bars, shots & chews (e.g., Gu, SOS, Powerbar, Cliffbar)
  • Small white sandwich slices with honey/jam/Vegemite/Nutella
  • Banana bread
  • Lollies
  • Sports drinks with electrolytes and carbohydrates (e.g., Bindi, Tailwind, Maurten, Coconut water, Powerade)
  • eniQ
  • Cold brew coffee or warmed up coffee/tea/ginger tea
  • Coke or other sugary drinks

Tips for Duo & Team swimmers:

  • Have your feeds organised in Eskys
  • Pack a selection of warm and cold foods/drinks (two-minute noodles or a warm tea can help you feel better if you’re feeling cold); have a system to keep things warm or cold on the boat
  • Pack extra of everything to have options in case something is not working
  • Have a plan and stick to it; don’t wait until you are hungry/thirsty or low on energy
  • Keep hydrated at every rest; hydrate with warm fluids if you are prone to getting cold; pack energy drinks

Additional tips for Ultramarathon & Solo swimmers:

  • Have a clear nutrition plan for your crew to be able to deliver; label everything so that it is easy to find and identify
  • Identify foods that you enjoy that are easy to consume while in the water (e.g., yogurt, rice pudding, porridge); things like fruit can be mushed up into squeezy bags
  • Keep hot items in a thermos and have them transferred to squeezy bottles for easy consumption