Busselton Jetty Swim, 10/02/2019, Phil Madden

Busselton Jetty Swim, 10/02/2019, Phil Madden


The Busselton jetty swim this year was my first, after watching it from the jetty in 2018 I had serious FOMO and was itching to give it a go.  I entered in the 3.6km race and Amanda entered in the 1.6km. I decided to race in a wetsuit as that is often the case for our sport of Triathlon, I wanted to see how I would go against a target time in a wetsuit. I set a time of 54min based on a 1:30 100m pace for 3.6km. 

On the day I felt a bit of a fake putting a wetsuit on when most were swimming without one but that was my race plan and I intended to stick to it. There was great comradery as we prepped together under one of the main marquees. Before the race Nathanial and I went down for a 5min warm up and I felt strong. Nat and I were leaving in the first wave and I was hoping that I could stick with him for part of the way as we are fairly close in pace when he doesn’t have his wetsuit on and I do. On the start line we ran into Morgan then we all entered the water and waited for the starters gun together.  The conditions on the way out were going to be fast and the swim back a little rougher due to the prevailing winds.

My key target at this time was to keep up with Nat as long as I could.  The race started and in the frenzy I lost Nat but as the race developed the selection process resulting in the numbers thinning down to people around the same pace. Once I saw Nat I swam over to keep that “target” in sight.  As we swam to the end of the jetty a pod of swimmers formed which meant I could sit on the back and just coast.  Sometimes I was in front of Nat and then sometimes behind.  As the pod formed I also saw the classic UWA trifit squad bathers of Morgan amongst the throng.  I felt good, my pace was manageable over the long distance and we turned at the end of the jetty together.  The pod became a bit of train wreck around the end of the jetty as everyone tried to get the best position, unfortunately people ended up swimming over the top of each other.  I lost vision of Morgan on the turn to come back to the beach but saw Nathaniel about five or more metres ahead but closer to the jetty.  He was on the toes of a newly formed pack and I was isolated.  I tried to get onto their feet but they were away and I then looked for a new pack.  I saw two people, a guy out front and a girl swimming on his toes, further back a few people trying to get on their wake.  I swam over to the group and let the male swimmer take the lead hoping he was strong enough to get onto the pack that Nat had joined.  Eventually that male swimmer swam away from us leaving the female swimmer and me swimming together with a small pack behind us.  As with all events you end up next to people and set up a little rivalry, first they push, you respond, then you push and they respond, in the end you are pushing each other to go faster which is something I always love about competitions. 

Thinking about the shape of the Jetty now I realise the wide line we took would have added extra distance to the swim and Nat’s line closer to the jetty was definitely shorter but at the time I was happy in our small group, was enjoying the rivalry and didn’t want to be isolated by swimming away and trying to get onto a faster pack.

As the finish line came closer I felt strong and knew it was time to push hard to the finish, with about 400m to go I put on the “after burners” to see if I could get in front of my rival swimming next to me. She couldn’t respond and I then looked for people sprinting the last few hundred meters. Finally I was on the beach running up to the finish and could hear Grace and Amanda woo hooing as I crossed the line. I hit the stop watch and looked at a time around 52:30min.  I turned and walked back to congratulate the female swimmer that I had swum with most of the way back to the beach, we smiled and laughed about how we had pushed each other all the way. I exited the finishing chute then headed down to where I had heard the voices to see Amanda and Grace “Dad you said 54min and it was 8:54 when you stood on the shore, but they did start the race a little late” They had seen Nat cross not long before me and I wondered how much time he had gained on me from the end of the jetty.  Once back at the tent I saw Nat and we congratulated each other, he said as he stood up Morgan was just behind him.  As always we all yearn to learn the official times, mine was faster than what I had clocked on my watch at 52:15.7 and well below my target time of 54 minutes.  Unfortunately I set my watch at the last minute and it didn’t pick up my GPS coordinates so I couldn’t see the actual distance swum I had swum.  I checked Nat’s time of 51:38.5, Morgan’s time of 51:46.5 and felt dam good with my time, the what if’s went through my head, could I have held on to Morgan or Nat if I had just had a better turn at the end of the jetty, I guess I’ll never know for sure but it has inspired me to try harder at our training sessions to try to improve between now and next year’s race, though next year I definitely won’t be swimming in wetsuit!