Keppel Swim Makes Six for Sue
From the moment I first learned about the #SwimAroundKeppel from a friend, I knew I was sold on the idea.
As an avid fan of tropical islands, it perfectly aligned with my love for the water. Further, with my milestone birthday fast approaching, there was no better way to complete my #6B460 challenge, which I began in 2021: to complete six Marathon Open Water Swims before turning 60.
The evening before my swim, we meticulously prepared all my feeds and did a comprehensive run-through of the plan. I packed a bag for the boat with extra goggles, bathers, and a cap — a plan B for a potential wardrobe malfunction!
The morning of my big day started with slathering myself in sunscreen, some light stretching, and a simple breakfast of toast with honey. Before heading down to the beach, I added another layer of sunscreen, zinc, and applied lanolin to prevent chafing.
Just after 8 am, I plunged into the water and began the 20km swim around the majestic Great Keppel Island, moving in an anticlockwise direction. The first 5-6km were particularly challenging, characterised by choppy waters, but I pushed on. I drew strength from the constant encouragement from my husband, from Val, and from the beautiful clear waters that offered great views of the coral, tropical fish, and giant clams.
My feeding schedule was strictly every 30 minutes, with a choice of aqualyte or energy gels, each stop not lasting more than 15 seconds.
To my delight, when I heard that I had only another 4km to go, I focused on my stroke, relaxed, and truly started to enjoy every moment. Spotting the Great Keppel Hideaway in the distance, I felt a surge of joy knowing I was close to finishing. The feeling of running up onto the beach from where I had set off earlier in the day was truly remarkable.
There’s no doubt in my mind that Great Keppel Island is the ultimate location for a marathon swim. This is further complemented by the outstanding organisation by Val Kalmikovs of the Keppel Islands Swimming Association. The meticulous planning and uncompromising focus on safety made the event even more enjoyable.
My swim wouldn’t have been possible without the continuous support of my family, my training squad and the immense patience of my coach, Claire Evans. Her unwavering support throughout this journey was key to this achievement.
– Words by Sue Dolgoy