Watching from the outside it looks like it has been another event filled year Challenges being met records being broken, sharks being sited, this year had a lot of excitement.
As late as last weekend there were questions down at the pool about the weather and whether or not the event would be happening, and if it did, what it would be like. There was a cyclone hanging around northern West Australia threatening to bring with it unseasonable and unpredictable weather. As is often the way, for a little while Armageddon was predicted. As it turns out though the bad weather hasn't really eventuated and the conditions, while not perfect, were definitely conducive to fast times with very strong tail winds all the way across the channel.
While the winds were behind the field the strong winds also meant for some roughish conditions. Out in the middle of the Rottnest crossing the water is rarely ever flat, but once the wind gets up it really gets a bit of chop. I guess the one advantage that the swimmers had this year is that that rough conditions were pushing them towards Rottnest rather than away. I am sure some swimmers would have liked flater conditions, but I am sure that everyone was happy to have the assistance.
The fast conditions, combined with some raw talent meant that a number of records fell this year, including the 17 year old overall record for the solo crossing. The previous record was set at almost exactly 4 hours during the super quick event in 2000. The record was so quick that many thought it would never be broken, it has certainly stood the test of time. However, this year the record was finally bought down by young speedster Solomon Wright. The record was dropped by about 40 seconds, finally bringing it below the magical 4 hour mark. Amazing stuff.
As well as the records that fell the other bit of excitement came on behalf of a shark sighting. It seems that these days we can't have an event take place in ocean without some sort of shark scare and today's crossing was no different. Fortunately with an event as large as this one a single shark doesn't shut down the entire event. However, for those within 1km of the shark it meant that they were pulled from the water and their day was done. The shark was sighted at about the 12km mark and I gather it unfortunately impacted a lot of swimmers. Frustrating, although understandable.
Still, on the whole the day seems to have gone very well for a lot of people. Within my circle of friends I have heard only good things and happy stories, which is just what you want for an iconic event like this.
The channel swim is an event that I struggle to comprehend, both the training and the event itself. No matter the conditions and the outcomes I always stand in awe of what was achieved today. This year was no exception to that.