Cold Swan River tests swimmers before warmer English Channel

Claremont Jetty has been a training site for English Channel swimmer Serena Wells and her coach Ceinwen Roberts.  Picture: Jon Bassett.
Claremont Jetty has been a training site for English Channel swimmer Serena Wells and her coach Ceinwen Roberts. Picture: Jon Bassett.

COMPARITVELY warm water in the English Channel will greet three Perth swimmers and their coach who will leave to tackle the 33km strait between the United Kingdom and France on Thursday.

“They have been training in Swan River to get used to the temperatures in the Channel, but they’ve had a heat wave in the UK this summer and the water is 18C, while the Swan has got down to 12C,” coach Ceinwen Roberts said.

Ms Roberts is an open water swimmer who founded a Port to Pub swim from North Fremantle to Rottnest Island, and she swam the Channel – “Mount Everest for swimmers”, she said – in 2011.

Her challenge is now to take North Fremantle’s Serena Wells (47), Mandurah’s Paul Miller (46) and Cottesloe’s Allen Tietzal (61) across the Channel’s busy shipping lanes from Dover to Calais during fine weather expected from this Sunday.

Paul Miller

Each swimmer did the Port to Pub 2018 and will do a 25km ultramarathon in 2019.

“They’ve all done the swim to Rottnest Island solo and were up for another challenge,” Ms Roberts said.

They will leave from a beach near Dover in bathers, a swim cap and covered in wool fat, with a support boat, during less powerful neap tides starting on September 16.

“That’s why your are very much in the hands of the boat’s skipper,” Ms Roberts said.

Her swimmers have spent 18 months swimming an weekly average of 30km in training, with a peak distance of 50km, at locations including Claremont Jetty, Chidley Point in Mosman Park and Claremont Aquatic Centre.

Eating a lot to put on fat to combat any cold was part of the preparation regime.

“They actually found it hard to put on any weight because they were training so much,” Ms Roberts said.

Ms Wells will be swimming for the charities Lifeline WA, Kanyana Wildlife park and the Centre for Asylum Seekers, Refugees and Detainees, and Mr Miller for a friend who needs 24-hour care assisted by the funding campaign Miggy and Milsners Mighty Swim.