TOMORROW’S annual Rottnest Channel Swim from Cottesloe Beach has brought swimmers from as far as Bondi Beach in Sydney.
Channel 10 Bondi Rescue cast member and surf lifesaver Bruce Hopkins (50) is gearing up for his 10th crossing.
“It’s probably one of the best ocean swims around the world because it’s not the sort of swim you get do each day,” Mr Hopkins said.
He and fellow cast members Trent Maxwell (27), Jesse Pollock (29) and Lukas Street (32) are in a team that will join 2490 other hopefuls leaving the beach to swim 19.4km to the island from 5.45am.
There will be 366 solo entrants, 196 duos and 434 teams taking the challenge, which is limited by the maximum number of boats and support vessels allowed for safety.
“Having done it 10 times you kind of know what to expect, after crossings in strong sou’westers, dead calm, to choppy and dead flat,” Mr Hopkins said.
The forecast is for a light north-west wind, a flat sea and weak tides which are expected to potentially help the swimmers.
Competitive entrants will race the record 3hr 59m 28s time set by Solomon Wright last year.
The Bondi boys are aiming for under five hours to beat their previous bests that have ranged between 5hrs and 5hrs 30m, but it is the environment of their surf lifesaving profession which is an added attraction.
“You’re in your element, throwing your arms over your head, living the trade-in-hand of surf lifesaving,” Mr Maxwell said.
However, local swimmers reported weed and many stingers during their early morning practice sessions this morning.
The discovery left Mr Street apprehensive.
“I hate stingers. They hurt,” he said.
All the swimmers will hit the water in 13 waves, starting with the first group at dawn who are the elite soloists in the Champions of the Channel section.
They will be followed by three waves of solo swimmers, three of duos and six of teams, all leaving at 10-minute intervals.