Country swimmers shine in bluewater event

27 Feb, 2010 01:00 AM
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MORE than 215 regional swimmers travelled from as far afield as Broome, Kalgoorlie and Esperance to join more than 2000 Perth residents competing in last weekend’s 19.7km Rottnest Channel swim.
MORE than 215 regional swimmers travelled from as far afield as Broome, Kalgoorlie and Esperance to join more than 2000 Perth residents competing in last weekend’s 19.7km Rottnest Channel swim.

CUBALLING’S Sara Ballard (40), who along with husband, Leigh, runs seed, stock feed and bulk soil businesses at Narrogin, completed her second Rottnest Channel swim last Saturday.

This year she completed the swim as part of a duo with Narrogin social worker, Alison Braid.

Buoyed after swimming to Rottnest in 2009 as part of a team of four, Sara and Alison (43), stepped up to the challenge of completing the swim together, which they achieved in just over eight hours.

“Conditions were fantastic for the first half of the race but when the South Westerly winds started about 11.30am, it became like a washing machine,” Sara said, who battled seasickness during the latter part of the race.

“We crossed that finish line feeling totally elated with a real sense of achievement.

“We are the only ones we know of in our area doing the swim but when you are on the boat on the day watching the flotilla of craft on the water and see the thousands of people in the water, you realise what a massive event it is and it is really quite overwhelming.

“You know then you are just one of 2300 other mad people.”

Keen swimmers who also compete in the occasional triathlon, Sara and Alison are members of the Narrogin Masters swimming club.

The women started their training preparation for the Rottnest swim three months ago, following a black line up and down Narrogin’s pool and clocking up around 20km each week.

This was topped up with four or five ocean swims including the annual Busselton Jetty 3.8km swim.

The training required a heavy time commitment from both women.

Sara said it was sometimes difficult to juggle everything, with early morning training, running a business and looking after their two sons, Max (3) and Lachlan (5).

Alison, who has a five year old daughter Jenna, said it was a personal challenge to do the Rottnest swim.

Support boat skipper Greg Ferguson is an ex-farmer from the Wheatbelt, with accompanying paddler Garren Knell from Narrogin.

The women are contemplating a solo swim next year.

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