On Sunday 12 February 2017, Busselton hosted it’s 22nd Busselton Jetty Swim. I believe the Busselton Jetty swim is the 2nd biggest open water event in the state, with the Cottesloe to Rottnest swim being the largest.
The Busselton event attracts in excess of 2000 entrants with only approximately 20% of participants being local. A further 5000+ supporters and spectators line the shore and Jetty to offer their support, and to marvel at the tenacity and athletic skills of the competitors. It’s an epic event, and hats off to all the organisers. With so many additional visitors to the area, I’m sure many Busselton businesses benefit immensely from the additional revenue raised.
Paul and I arrived after the swimmers had taken to the water this year, so we missed the excitement as they made their big, joint splash at the starting line. Our friends and neighbours, Kaye and Brian told us the beginning is a real sight to behold. This year Kaye’s brother, Peter was one of the entrants.
Like most of the participants this year, Peter’s goal was just to complete the race. The weather was windy and the water choppy, apparently the worst conditions ever experienced for the swim to date. The participants had to swim wide of the jetty to avoid being blown into it, no doubt adding distance to the normal 3.6kms. The chop on the water was such that it was difficult for swimmers to breath without taking in seawater. The conditions were awful. Certainly not conducive to any personal bests, or record breaking speeds.
The event was supported by volunteers from St Johns Ambulance Association, Busselton Marine Rescue, and Busselton Life Saving Association. All were kept busy. There were a number of inflatable rescue boats, and jet skis ferrying swimmers to the shore when the conditions become to tough. I saw one swimmer wrapped in a silver thermal blanket, and I’m sure there would have been many more. Our water safety in Australia is constantly dependant on the many volunteers who donate their time and skills. There are so many of them. They are a wonderful group of people, and have my utmost respect.
The first Swimmer over the finishing line was Tim Hewitt, with a time of 44.56.13, approximately 2 1/2 minutes longer than last years winning time – no surprises there.
As the rest of the swimmers reached the shore it was clear how absolutely dreadful the conditions had been. Smiling faces were rare, and it was clear every step being taken along the sand towards the official finishing line was being taken with considerable mental effort. Some of the comments to be heard were:
“That was awful.”
“That was shit.”
“Last years swim was a doddle compared to this years”.
Some of the faces were green when they reached the shore, and I believe many were horribly sick, both during the race, and at it’s completion.
I haven’t managed to track down the exact number of participants this year, nor how many actually completed the race. Accolades though to all who entered the water on such a dismal day. For those who pulled out without completing the event, congratulations on even beginning the race. You were very brave. There’s certainly no shame to be felt at withdrawing, or being rescued. For those who completed the event, I’m in awe. It was clear from all the faces as the swimmers made their way to the finishing line, there was no immediate feelings of Joy. I hope that as the pain faded, the realisation of what you accomplished kicked in. And with that realisation I hope you felt euphoria. You all deserved euphoria.