Luke Smoothy to make Rottnest Channel record attempt

Luke Smoothy.
Picture: Martin Kennealey   d453856
Luke Smoothy. Picture: Martin Kennealey d453856

A BROKEN arm from a skateboard tumble wasn’t going to lessen Luke Smoothy’s determination to become the youngest solo swimmer to cross the Rottnest Channel tomorrow.

The 13-year-old, who turns 14 on Friday, broke his arm while skateboarding to school last month, but has recovered in time to attempt the 20km feat; weather permitting.

In 2007, the Rottnest Channel Swim Association set a minimum age of 14 for the crossing, hence Luke’s reason for taking the plunge on his birthday.

A Rottnest Channel Swim Association spokeswoman said the previous record was set by Mark Finnian, who was 14 and two days when he did the crossing in 2011.

The youngest athlete to complete the challenge before the 14-year age minimum was Chhavi Madan, an Indian girl who completed the distance aged 12-and-a-half in 1995.

The Mindarie resident’s motivation to test his limits was simple.

“The opportunity to be the youngest to swim the event and to have a challenge set for myself was the drive to do it,” he said.

“After hearing from other squad members, I expect it to be difficult.”

The Quinns Baptist College student trains under seven-time long-distance world champion Shelley Taylor-Smith.

He is hoping for a seven-hour crossing.

Luke’s father Martin and brother Sam are both accomplished endurance swimmers, who became the first father-son duo to brave the gruelling 35km English Channel last year. The trio has been nicknamed the Smoothy Train.

Martin and Sam are heading to Italy in July to compete in a 36km race.

And Luke has his own big ambitions.

“I would like to race in the 58km Manhattan Island swim in New York before I’m 18,” he said. “My ultimate goal as a swimmer is to become the best swimmer I can be and to reach my full potential.”