Paula (47) has been involved with the event since 2003, having competed in a team, duo and as a solo as well as being part of the support crew, while Shannon (17) competed in a team for the first time last year.
‘This has been Shannon’s dream to swim with me as a duo team,’ Paula said.
‘Since she was seven, she’s said ‘I want to swim with you mum’.
‘Last year, she swam in a team of four so she could see how the swim worked and have the experience to prepare for a duo.
‘Now I’ll be able to support and guide her ready for her solo swim in 2015.’
Paula said her biggest challenge this year would be as a mother watching her daughter swim and ‘mentally keeping sharks far away from my mind.’
‘With all the media coverage lately plus the sightings it does worry me but on a positive note, it’s a lovely swim ” great atmosphere with other swimmers around you, hearing the support crews and having a joke with teams or cheering on the solo swimmers,’ she said.
‘Everyone encourages each other. It’s a big family-type atmosphere even if people don’t know each other.’
The pair has been swimming 20km a week to prepare for this Saturday’s event from Cottesloe Beach to Thompson Bay at Rottnest Island.
‘We plan for all weather conditions. We train for rough conditions but pray for nice flat water,’ Paula said.
However, the lead-up has not been all smooth sailing for the duo, after their support team and boat had to pull out.
‘Three weeks ago we were thinking we would not be doing it,’ Paula said.
She advertised in the Sorrento Surf Life Saving Club’s newsletter, of which they are members, and Brian Dargie and his wife Hannelin offered to be their support crew.
‘We so appreciate their support because if they didn’t help, we would have had to pull out of the swim,’ Paula said.