What makes a champion? Dedication? Yes, surely. Training? Of course. Yet for Jeremy McClure, four-time Australian Paralympian swimmer and Para-triathlete, it comes down to a state of mind.
“Whether you’re running, cycling, swimming – any form of endurance sport really – the single biggest thing to conquer is the mental aspect”, says McClure, speaking to Karma Resorts. It’s the day after Australia Day and we’ve managed to snag Jeremy for a quick chat about his latest achievement – an astonishing double open-water crossing between the mainland and the azure shores of Western Australia’s Rottnest Island.
Completing the attempt in just 14 hours and 8 minutes, McClure’s achievement makes him the first legally blind swimmer to conquer the 39.4-kilometre return journey.
McClure says the idea came about after completing his first Karma Resorts Rottnest Channel Swim in 2015.
“My main event is the 100-metre backstroke, so I’ve always been a sprinter. Swimming for endurance was definitely something I wanted to try more of”.
“After the London (2012 Paralympic) games I did a few triathlons, it really cemented my interest in endurance sports and marathon-style swimming, but then Rio was coming up so I had to push it back for a while and concentrate on sprint swimming for the games.”
As part of the Australian team at the Rio games, McClure achieved 5th in the 100-metre backstroke. Once back in Perth and still in peak fitness, he decided it was time to attempt the double-crossing to Rottnest.
McClure took on both a hectic training schedule and fundraising activity for the Alzheimer’s Australia WA branch, eventually donating over $3000.
Although he could be forgiven for taking a break after an epic 2016, McClure’s already booked in for this year’s Karma Resorts Rottnest Channel Swim. Asked what advice he has for this year’s swimmers, he says it comes down to mental toughness and preparing for the conditions.
“It’s a pretty big piece of water out there and conditions can change. You can hope for the best conditions on the day, but I like to prepare for the worst.”
“Try training in conditions similar to what you’ll face on the day – if it’s a bit rough one day don’t cancel your training session, get out there and swim. It helps to build confidence and that helps to put you in the right state of mind to win.”