Laver (29) said he had won duo and team events in the past but his goal was to be the first solo swimmer across the line.
‘My preparation was better this time,’ he said.
‘I went out really easy but was struggling through the middle.
‘The last kilometre was hell.’
German competitor Ben Konschak was second in 4:15:11 and Paul Blackbeard crossed in 4:24:52.
Konschak said the swim ‘was fun except for the first 10km when there were lots of jellyfish’.
‘I had one on my nose tip; it was quite uncomfortable,’ he said.
‘I’m happy I don’t have to swim back.’
Subiaco resident Kirsty Sterle was the highest fundraiser, raising more than $10,000 for the Dogs’ Refuge Home in Shenton Park.
There was a sighting of a hammerhead shark during the packed crossing, which offered the best swimming conditions in 10 years.
State Government-enforced drum lines off Cottesloe and North Cottesloe beaches were removed before the swim and put back on Sunday.
‘They were just in the way,’ a spokeswoman for Fisheries Minister Ken Baston said.
‘The organisers asked for them to be removed and we agreed.’