This year, the 2017 Karma Resorts Rottnest Channel Swim will see over 2,300 dedicated swimmers pit their endurance and team spirit against the temperamental stretch of water between Perth’s Cottesloe Beach and the ruggedly beautiful shores of Western Australia’s iconic Rottnest Island.
While swimmers are required to have their own support craft and crews, the event also receives plenty of support from the professionals – the employees and volunteers from Surf Life Saving WA. Far above, the dedicated team of the Westpac Lifesaver Rescue Helicopter will also support the swim.
An integral part of WA’s lifesaving efforts, the helicopter crew responds to many marine related emergencies every year. Exclusive to Karma Resorts, the team has volunteered to share their advice about how you can make your 2017 Rottnest Channel Swim a safe one.
#1 Always hold a Safety Brief
Make sure you conduct a safety brief with everyone on board your boat. Ideally do this before you leave, or whilst you are waiting to link up with your first swimmer. Make sure your team knows where the safety equipment is, how to turn off the engine in an emergency, your radio call sign and how to make a radio call, as well as basic seamanship. Remind everyone that the whole team rushing to one side of the boat all at once can lead to disaster!
#2 Plan your changeovers
Talk about how you are going to do your changeovers. Ensure that people leave and re-enter the vessel safely. As the day goes on, fatigue will make the changeovers the most likely point of an injury or incident, so practice beforehand.
#3 Be aware of your surroundings at all times
The swim can be very chaotic at times with many swimmers, paddlers and vessels jockeying for position. It’s not just the skipper’s job to be on look out – everyone on board should maintain a watch on what is happening around you as well as try to anticipate what may happen. Be prepared to maneuver or call out a warning if you are getting too close to other participants.
#4 Protect yourselves from the elements
Sun and wind are the two key elements that can ruin your day. Keep an eye on all of your teammates – make sure they are being SunSmart and keeping warm. As the day progresses, exposure to the elements will start to affect the performance of everyone on the vessel and in the water, so you must monitor each other closely. In particular, the onset of hypothermia can easily happen if body temperature is not maintained – so pack plenty of fresh, dry towels! You can never have too many.
#5 Praise your paddlers
Paddlers are the unsung heroes of the Rottnest Channel Swim. Make sure they keep the energy up throughout the day with regular food and liquids, as well as protect themselves from the elements. Try to reinforce a positive mindset among the crew – it’s not only good for your swimmers but also your paddlers!
It’s ideal to have two people to fulfill the role of paddler throughout the day – rotating turns in the water.
#6 Remember to have FUN
In some senses the swim can be a stressful event – especially for skippers and paddlers – so if things are getting tense onboard then break out the lollies and remind yourselves to keep things fun!