Rottnest Swim abandoned mid race

Bassendean resident Jordan Harkins says he battled jellyfish and heavy swells before he was pulled out.
February 29, 2024
Andrew Williams

FOR the second time in the history of the event, the Rottnest channel swim was cancelled due to dangerous weather conditions.

Almost 2600 participants entered the water at Cottesloe beach on Saturday morning, February 24, with the intention of swimming the 19.7km to Rottnest.

At 10am weather conditions had deteriorated beyond the Rottnest Channel Swim Association (RCSA) safety threshold guidelines and following the advice of Bureau of Meteorology and Marine Rescue Fremantle the decision was made to abandon the race. It is the first time ever the event has been abandoned during the race.

Initially, those participants who had yet to reach the 14km point were directed to exit the water onto support boats, with the small remaining group of swimmers past the cutoff point allowed to continue.

However, this small group of swimmers had their race cut short soon after.

Among this group of athletes was eighteen-year-old Bassendean resident Jordan Harkins.

Mr Harkins estimated that the only ten swimmers who were part of the small group that continued were surprised when they got called off as well because they were so close to the end.

In Bassendean resident sets sights on Rotto swim Mr Harkins’ qualifying time placed him in the first wave of swimmers who began their swim at 5.45am

He said he was able to settle into a rhythm by the 5km mark where he bounced between fifth and seventh place out of the 2600 participants. But the weather soon changed drastically.

“It got really windy, and the swell got to two meters at points,” he said.

But the weather wasn’t the only thing the swimmers had to watch out for.

“I got done a fair bit by the stingers (jellyfish). Probably stung 20-25 times during the 16km, but they were more of an inconvenience than an issue,” Mr Harkins said.

“The whole way the only driving factor is being able to run up that beach in front of everyone. So, when they called it off it felt like I had swum for about four hours for no reason.

“Some people cared a bit more strongly about not finishing because of the prize money up for grabs. But it’s not the end of the world, I got everything I wanted out of the race,” he said.

“Getting onto the boat, I had to get lifted on, I just had nothing left. I was pretty much hypothermic with how cold the water was.”

Despite not being able to finish the race, Mr Harkins said it won’t affect his training regime.

“I’m going to continue training, I’ll get into competitive pool swimming now the open water season is coming to an end,” he said

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