Cotto short races a channel for younger swimmers

James Hodge, dad Simon and younger son Charlie are looking forward to the shorter Cotto swim. Picture: Andrew Ritchie www.communitypix.com.au   d474920
James Hodge, dad Simon and younger son Charlie are looking forward to the shorter Cotto swim. Picture: Andrew Ritchie www.communitypix.com.au d474920

THE new Cotto short races that will swim off after the final wave of Rottnest Channel Swim participants at Cottesloe Beach are making a splash with young swimmers.

“I know some of the kids in my squad at the UWA West Coast Swimming Club are quite excited by this,” WA junior 800m swimming champion Charlie Hodge (11) said.

Last week, the Rottnest Island Channel Swim Association announced 1km and 3km races just off the beach as part of the February 24 event.

While channel swim competitors must be at least 14, Charlie can compete in the new races once he turns 12 later this year.

He trains for other competitions up to six times a week and his brother James (13), who is thinking about entering the mini-races with some mates, trains about four times at HBF Stadium in their home suburb of Mt Claremont.

“I like the long swims, not sure why, but they are my favourites as you have the distance and the quiet to think,” Charlie said.

His father will shadow his son in a kayak in the mini-races.

“That’s great, because he is more than capable because he’s already the State 11-year-old 800m champion,” Mr Hodge said.

The mini-races were established by the Rottnest Island Channel Swim Association to give others a chance to participate in the increasingly crowded event that is followed by a fleet of support boats.

“As event boat numbers are limited in order to ensure the safest passage for our participants, there are unfortunately some swimmers that miss out,” association president Chris Turner said.

Other swimmers may not be prepared for the long haul to the island, and organisers are touting some parents who wave off older children racing to Rottnest may also like to take advantage of a smaller competitive swim.

The STS Leeuwin will be anchored 1.5km off the north end of Cottesloe Beach and a buoy at 500m will mark the turnaround of the smaller course.

Registrations are at www.rottnestchannelswim.com.au/cottoswim.

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